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of the mysterious phenomena now under
investigation by the Societies for Psy-
chical Research, and conjectures regard-
ing them by qualified students.
The series will include some of the
classics of the subject, either taken from
the Proceedings of the societies or re-
printed from editions no longer obtain-
able.
The following are already arranged
for. Others are expected.
The Unseen Doctor with Preface by
J.Arthur Hill.
After Death Communications, by L.
M. Bazett, with Introduction by J.
Arthur Hill.
The Ear of Dionysius by The Right
Hon. G. W. Balfour, with a discussion
of the Evidence by Miss F. Melian
Stawell and a reply by Mr. Balfour.
The Mediamship of Mr. T. by Anna
de Koven. (Mrs. Reginald de Koven.)
Memoirs of a Medium by Erne
Halsey. (" Mrs. Vernon.")
My
Experiences With Mrs. Piper, by
Anne Manning Robbins, author of Both
Sides of the Veil.
Psychic Studies and Sketches by
Henry Holt.
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
FARTHER SCRIPTS AFFORDING EVIDENCE OF
PERSONAL SURVIVAL

BY
THE RIGHT HON. G. W. BALFOUR

WITH A DISCUSSION OF THE EVIDENCE


BY
MISS F. MELIAN SHAWELL
AND A REPLY BY MR. BALFOUR

Reprinted by authority from the Proceedings of the


Society for Psychical Research

NEW YORK
HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY
1920
y*>0\

Copyright 1920

BY
HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY

/ /7 $

©CI.A604043
CONTENTS
PART I
PAGE
Scripts Affording Evidence of Personal
Survival 3
Appendix 67

PART II

Discussion of the Evidence JJ


A Paper Read to the Society of Psychical Research
by Miss F. Melian Stawell.

PART III

Discussion of the Evidence (conti .tied) 97


A Reply by the Right Hon. Gerald W. Balfour.

PART IV
Note: On the Analogies Between the
Statius Case and the Dionysius Case 125
Index 129
I.

THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS


:

THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS


Scripts affording Evidence of Personal
*
Survival.

On the 26th of August, 1910, the automatist who is

already well known to members of the Society under

the name of Mrs. Willett sat for script with Mrs.


Verrall.

The script produced on this occasion, partly

written and partly dictated — I use the word script

for convenience sake to include the spoken as well

as the written word —contained the phrase " Diony-


sius' Ear the lobe." The phrase occurred in the dic-

tated part of the script, and the name Dionysius


was pronounced as in Italian. It has no obvious
relevance to the context, and this first appearance
of it in Willett Script remains even now without
any satisfactory explanation.
To Mrs. Verrall herself, as we shall see presently,

the words conveyed at the time no meaning what-


1 This Paper
was read at a meeting of the Society for
Psychical Research on November 9th, 1916, substantially in
the form in which it is now published, except that consid-
erable additions have been made to the argumentative por-
tion.
3
4 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
ever. As a good many of my audience may be in

like case with her, I had best explain at the outset

that the Ear of Dionysius is a kind of grotto hewn


in the solid rock at Syracuse and opening on one
of the stone-quarries which served as a place of
captivity for the Athenian prisoners of war who
fell into the hands of the victorious Syracusans
after the failure of the famous siege so graphically

described by Thucydides. A few years later these

quarries were again used as prisons by the elder


Dionysius, Tyrant of Syracuse. The grotto of
which I have spoken has the peculiar acoustic proper-
ties of a whispering gallery, and is traditionally be-

lieved to have been constructed or utilised by the

Tyrant in order to overhear, himself unseen, the


conversations of his prisoners. Partly for this rea-
son, and partly from a fancied resemblance to the

interior of a donkey's ear, it came to be called

L'Orecchio di Dionisio, or the Ear of Dionysius;


but the name only dates from the sixteenth century.
The grotto is still one of the objects of interest

which every visitor to Syracuse is taken to see.

No further reference was made in any Willett


Script to the Ear of Dionysius until more than three
years later. The subject was first revived in a
script written in the presence of Sir Oliver Lodge
— —

THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 5

on the 10th of January, 19 14. The sitting was a


very long one, and in the course of it occurred the
following passage.
A.

(Extract from Script of Jan. 10, 1914.)

Do you remember you did not know and I


complained of your classical ignorance Ignor-
ance
It concerned a place where slaves were kept

and Audition belongs, also Acoustics


Think of the Whispering Gaily

To toil, a slave, the Tyrant and it was called
Orecchio — that's near
One Ear, a one eared place, not a one horsed
dawn [here the automatist laughed slightly], a

one eared place You did not know (or re-
member) about it when it came up in conver-
sation, and I said Well what is the use of a
classical education
Where were the fields of Enna
[Drawing of an ear.]
an ear ly pipe could be heard
To sail for Syracuse
Who beat the loud-sounding wave, who smote
the moving furrows
The heel of the Boot
Dy Dy and then you think of Diana Di-
morphism
To fly to find Euripides
not the Pauline Philemon
This sort of thing is more difficult to do than
it looked.

6 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS


There are several interesting points to be noted in

connection with this passage. Earlier in the script


it was stated that a message was to be sent to Mrs.
Verrall; but at the point where the extract com-
mences, Mrs. Verrall is directly addressed in the

second person, although she was not herself present.


The communication must be taken as purporting to
come from Dr. A. W. Verrall, the incident recalled

in the extract having actually happened very much


as described. I will relate it in the words of Mrs.
Verrall's own note, written on Jan. 19, 19 14, after,

this portion of the script had been shown to her.

My
typed note on the Willett Script of Aug.
"
26, 1910, is as follows Dionysius' Ear the
: '

lobe is unintelligible to me.


'
A. W. V. says it
is the name of a place at Syracuse where D.
could overhear conversations." This makes clear
what was instantly recalled to me on hearing
the Willett Script of Jan. 10, that I did not
know, or had forgotten, what the Ear of Dion-
ysius was, and that I asked A. W. V. to ex-
plain it. I cannot say whether on that occasion
he asked " What is the use of a classical edu-
cation?" but he expressed considerable surprise
at my ignorance, and the phrase of the script
recalls —
though it does not, I think, reproduce
similar remarks of his on like occasions.
The incident to me is very striking. I am
quite sure that Mrs. was not present
Willett
when I asked A. W. V. about the Ear of Dion-
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 7
ysius; no one was present except A. W. V. and
myself. She therefore had no reason to sup-
. . .

pose that on this particular subject, of the Ear


of Dionysius, my information had been obtained
from A. W. V. On the other hand, the form
given to my contemporary note " A. W. V.

says etc." —confirms my own vivid recollection
of the incident above described. It is not easy,
I think, to devise a more convincing single in-
cident.

The incident is certainly striking; but I have to

confess that its evidential force is weakened by a


dim though haunting recollection on my part of a

conversation having taken place between Mrs. Wil-


lett and me sometime previously on this very subject

of Dionysius' Ear. She has no memory of it her-

self; but I still think she told me one day that the
words " Ear of Dionysius " had been running in

her head, and asked me what they meant whereupon ;

I explained, adding that they had come in one of


her own scripts several years before. I do not be-
lieve I referred to Mrs. Verrall, or to Dr. Verrall's
having rallied her upon her ignorance. But as I
had been told of the incident by Mrs. Verrall her-
self shortly after it occurred, it is just possible I

may have done so; and this possibility spoils what


would otherwise have been a good piece of evidence.
Returning now to the extract from the Willett

8 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS


Script of Jan. 10, 1914, 1 proceed to apply a running

commentary to the other allusions, certain or prob-

able, which it contains.

The "place where slaves were kept" refers of


course to the stone-quarries where the Athenian
captives were imprisoned. The words that follow

describe the Ear of Dionysius, with its peculiar

acoustic properties. Dionysius himself is not named


either in this or in the succeeding scripts to which I

shall presently call attention; though the syllables


" Dy Dy " towards the end of the extract probably

represent an attempt at the name. The use of the


Italian for Ear, Orecchio, is noteworthy, and recalls

the Italian pronounciation of " Dionysius " in the


earlier script. I may say that Mrs. Willett knows
Italian and has spent some time in Italy, though she
has never been in Sicily. Much play is made later

on with the phrase " a one-eared place." It seems

to have little point in the present extract save to


bring in our old friend the " one-horsed dawn "
an appropriate reminiscense for Dr. Verrall, as
readers of the Proceedings will not require to be
1
told. Sir Oliver Lodge's record tells us that the

^^The words "a one-horsed dawn" refer to a telepathic


experiment tried by Dr. Verrall in his life-time on Mrs.
Verrall, of which a full account was published by her in
Proceedings S.P.R., Vol. XX., pp. 156-167. See also Pro-
ceedings, Vol. XXVII., pp. 237-238.
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 9
automatist laughed as she wrote " not a one-horsed
dawn." From my experience of Willett Script I

have no doubt that the laugh represents amusement


on the part of the communicator, not on that of the
automatist herself. It is Dr. Verrall —or the per-
sonality purporting to be Dr. Verrall — who laughs
as he transmits the words; the laughter of the auto-
matist is but an echo.
The meadows of Enna, a town in Sicily, were
famous in antiquity as the scene of the Rape of
Proserpine. They are introduced here either to
indicate Sicily as the country with which the mes-
sage is concerned, or, more probably, to add to the

various literary and historical associations which are


piled up in this and the immediately succeeding
scripts.

Another such association, and a strangely far-

fetched one, seems to be dragged in in the next line


" An ear ly pipe could he heard." The allusion here

is apparently to the lines in Tennyson's well-known


poem " Tears, idle tears :
" 1

" The earliest pipe of half-awaken'd birds


To dying ears."

1 Since this Paper was written it has been suggested to


rafe that the "pipe" is the pipe, and that the
shepherd's
allusion is to Theocritus, the famous Sicilian bucolic poet.
Theocritus is said to have imitated the Cyclops of Phil-
oxenus in his eleventh idyll.
:

io THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS


The bringing of this poem into forced connection

with the Ear of Dionysius, and that by means of


an abominable pun, is certainly not characteristic

of the automatist. I doubt however whether Dr.


Verrall's intimates would scout it as a sally impos-
sible to his more playful moments. Indeed, there
may even be an evidential point about the jest;

for Mrs. Verrall writes in her contemporary note


" The non-serious or parody-like introduction of
this poem is consistent with the feeling of the sup-

posed communicator; A. W. V. always considered


the sentiment of the poem somewhat overstrained,

and maintained that that view was warranted by


Tennyson's own description of Ida's reception of it

'
with some disdain,' as a fancy '
hatched in silken
"
folded idleness.'
The next reference in the script is almost cer-
tainly to the ill-fated Athenian expedition against
Syracuse. The words " who beat the loud-sounding

wave, who smote the moving furrows " are probably

reminiscent of Tennyson's Ulysses:

" Sitting well in order smite

The sounding furrows,"

though I do not think that any allusion to Ulysses

is intended here, in spite of the fact that he plays,


I am still inclined to prefer the explanation given in the
text.
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS n
as we shall see, an important part in subsequent de-

velopments. " The heel of the Boot " may be taken


to indicate the route followed by the Athenian fleet,

which passed from Corcyra to Tarentum in the heel

of Italy, thence coasted along to the toe, and so


reached Sicily.
" Dy Dy " I have already explained as probably

an attempt at the name Dionysius. The communi-


cator fails to get the whole name through, and then
addressing the automatist, who repeats his language,
reproaches her with thinking of words beginning
with Di which are not what he wants.
The final allusion in the extract calls for a some-
what longer comment. A script written by Mrs.
Holland in 1907 contains the words " To fly to find

Euripides Philemon." The script is quoted by Mr.


Piddington in Volume XXII. of the Proceedings
(p. 215), and the source of the reference to
Euripides and Philemon given —namely, Brown-
ing's Aristophanes' Apology or the Last Adventure
of Balaustion.

In Aristophanes' Apology [writes Mr. Pidding-


ton] Balaustion tells to Philemon the story of
how, on the night on which news of the death
of Euripides reached Athens, Aristophanes,
flushed with wine and with the success of his
Thesmophoriazousce came to her house and there
justified his attacks on the dead poet and of ;

how, the apology ended, Balaustion read to Aris-


—"

12 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS


tophanes and the assembled company the Her-
cules Furens, the original tablets of which Euri-
pides had presented to her as a parting gift.

The poem ends by Balaustion telling Philemon


that she sent the original tablets to Dionysius,
tyrant of Sicily, who placed them in a temple
of Apollo with this inscription:
" I also loved

The poet, Free Athenai cheaply prized



King Dionusios, Archelaos like."
Balaustion then asks Philemon
"If he too have not made a votive verse !

and Philemon replies:


" Grant, in good sooth, our great dead, all the

same,
Retain their sense, as certain wise men say,
Fd hang myself —to see Euripides/'
Mrs. Willet has not read Aristophanes' 'Apology.
She had, however, seen the Holland Script, and
recognised at that time that her own script had bor-
rowed from it. She had also read parts of Vol.
XXII. of the Proceedings, and may have seen the
passage I have just quoted. From the evidential
point of view we must assume that she had seen it,
and that she may thus have become aware of a con-
nection between Browning's Philemon and the ty-
rant Dionysius. On the other hand, it would not be
legitimate to infer that this literary contribution to

the subject in hand must have proceeded from her


own mental activities unprompted by any external
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 13

influence. Whatever view we take of the genuine-


ness or otherwise of the supposed communicators
and communications, it is clear that what is already
in the mind, conscious or subconscious, of the auto-
matist, will also be that which will most easily

emerge in automatic speech or writing.

In any case the reference to Browning's poem is

aptly chosen. Not only does it bring in Dionysius


the Tyrant in the manner described, but also, though

indirectly, the two other main topics alluded to in

the script, namely, the Athenian expedition against

Syracuse, and the stone-quarries where the Athenian


prisoners worked until they were sold as slaves or

released because they were able to recite Euripides.

The second " Adventure " of Balaustion inevitably

recalls the first, related in the companion poem and ;

the first adventure starts from the defeat of the


Athenian Expedition, and ends with Balaustion
seeking safety for herself and her whole ship's

company from the threatened hostility of the Syra-


cusans by the exercise of a similar gift of recitation.
One other point is perhaps worthy of mention.
1
Browning's line

" I'd hang myself — to see Euripides."

is misquoted by Mrs. Holland, and after her by

i-This line is an almost literal translation from a frag-


ment of Philemon which has come down to us.
"

14 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS


Mrs. Willett in the form " To fly to find Euripides."
I owe to Mrs. Verrall the suggestion that the remark
in the Willett Script, about " this sort of thing

being " more difficult to do than it looked/' is due


to a recognition by the communicator of the mis-
quotation —a misquotation which in his life-time
Dr. Verrall, " who was much interested in Mrs.

Holland's allusion to Lucus and Philemon, never


failed to note and regret."

So far all is plain sailing. The reproduction of


what Dr. Verrall said to Mrs. Verrall anent the

Ear of Dionysius it is possible to explain in the man-


ner I have suggested. The other allusions, histori-
cal, geographical and literary, have a natural con-
nection; and all of them might be supposed, without
any rude violation of probability, to have been at
one time or another within the normal knowledge of
the automatist. But up to now we have only been
laying foundations for what is to follow. In the
succeeding scripts the plot begins to thicken.
Before I enter upon these further developments
it will not be out of place to make a brief statement
concerning the conditions in which the Willett
Scripts are produced. Many of these are written
when the automatist is alone, awake, and fully

aware of her surroundings. The remainder, pro-


THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 15
x
duced in the presence of a " sitter,'' fall mainly
into two classes. Either the automatist is in a

normal or nearly normal state of consciousness,

much as when she writes scripts by herself, or else

she is in a condition of trance. There have been a


few intermediate cases, when it is hard to say
whether the sensitive is in trance or not. But these
are a very small number: in general there is no
difficulty whatever in distinguishing. Scripts ob-

tained in a normal state of consciousness, whether

in presence of a sitter or alone, are always annotated


by Mrs. Willett shortly after they have been pro-
duced. The originals are carefully preserved in the

custody of the investigating group; but she keeps


copies to which she can at any time refer. Of
scripts produced in trance, on the other hand, she
remembers nothing, even immediately after waking;
and the contents are carefully kept from her know-
ledge. The script of Aug. 26, 1910, in which the
first reference to the Ear of Dionysius occurred,
was a trance-script. That of Jan. 10, 19 14, from
which Extract A has been taken, was written in

a A few of Mrs. Willett's scripts have been produced in


the presence of some member of her family, and two in
the presence of a friend who does not belong to the investi-
gating group. Apart from these rare occasions, she has
never sat for automatic writing save with Mrs. Verrall, Sir
Oliver Lodge, or myself; and never at any time in the
presence of more than one person.
16 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
normal conditions of consciousness. All the re-
maining scripts I shall have occasion to quote in
this Paper were trance-scripts. Until May of this
year (1916), Mrs. Willett had never been shown
any of them or any portion of any of them : there

is no doubt in my own mind that in a normal state

of consciousness she was totally ignorant of their

contents. In that month I allowed her to see, not


the entire scripts, but just those passages which I
am about to cite, and which have been printed for
distribution among the audience. The date of the
last of these scripts was August 19, 191 5. It is

clear, therefore, that Mrs. Willett's having been


shown the extracts nine months later could in no
way weaken any " evidential " value which the epi-
sode they relate to may be thought to possess.
I now proceed to read and comment on Extract
B from the Willett sitting of Feb. 28, 191 4, at
which I was myself present.

B.

(Extracts from Sitting of Feb. 28, 1914.)

(Present: G. W. B.)

Some confusion may appear in the matter


transmitted but there is now being started an

experiment not a new experiment but a new sub-


ject and not exactly that but a new line which
joins with a subject already got through
a little anatomy if you please
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 17

Add one to one


One Ear X [sic] one eye

the one eyed Kingdom


No, in the K of the Blind the 1 eyed man is

King
It is about a 1 eyed man * 1 eyed
The entrance to the Cave Arethusa
Arethusa is only to indicate it does not belong
to the 1 eyed

A Fountain on the Hill Side

What about Baulastion [sic]

man " crossed out in the original.


18 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
[Laughs] Supposed to be a Wellington Boot
12 little nigger boys thinking not of Styx
Some were eaten up and then there were Six
Six.

[At this point Mrs. Willett ceased to write


and began dictating to the Sitter.]
Some one said— Oh I'll try, I'll try. Oh!
Some one's showing me a picture and talking
at the same time.
Some one said to me, Homer and some one —

said I'm so confused, I'm all with things flit-
ting past me; I don't seem to catch them. Oh
dear!

Nor nor sounds diurnal.


sights
Here where all winds are quiet. 1

Oh!
Edmund says, Powder first and jam after-
wards.You see it seems a long time since I was

here with them —and I want to talk to them and


enjoy myself. And I've all the time to keep on
working, and seeing and listening to such boring
old—
Oh, ugh! [Expression of great disgust.]
Somebody said, Give her time, Give her
time . . . Oh, if I could only say it quickly and
get done with it. It's about a cave, and a group
of men. Somebody then —a trident, rather like
a toasting fork / think.
Poseidon, Poseidon.

1 Swinburne: The Garden of Proserpine^


THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 19

Who was it said, It may be that the gulfs will



wash us down find the great Achilles that we
knew? 1 He's got a flaming torch in his hand.

And then some one said to me, Can't you think


of Noah and the grapes?

Optics Oh! that, you know [putting a finger
to her eye].
Oh, if I could only say what I hear! Oh, I

will try, I will try.


Somebody said to me, Don't forget about
Henry Sidgwick, that he pleased not himself. Do
you know he used to work when he hated work-
ing. I mean sometimes he had to grind along
without enjoying what he was doing. That's
what I'm trying to do now.
Do you know that man with the glittering eyes
I once saw? He hit me with one word now.
[Here Mrs. Willett traced a word with one fin-
ger along the margin of the paper. I failed to
make it out, and handed the pencil to her, where-
upon she wrote]
Aristotle
[Dictation resumed] And Poetry, the language
of the Gods. Somebody killed a President once
and call out —something in Latin, and I only
heard one word of it, Tironus, Tiranus, Tiranius
— something about sic.
2

1 Tennyson Ulysses.
:

2 Sic semper tyrannis —uttered


by Booth when he mur-
dered President Lincoln. The phrase had
already appeared
in Mrs. Piper's trance of Apr. 17, 1907. See Proceedings,
Vol. XXIV., p. 30.

20 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS


What is a tyrant?
Lots of wars A Siege [spoken loud and with
emphasis]. I hear the sound of chipping. [Here
Mrs. W. struck the fingers of one hand repeatedly
against the palm of the other.] It's on stone.
Now, wait a minute. Oh, if I could only get
that word.

Fin and something gleba. Find [pronounced


as in the Latin finditur] —
oh! it's got to do with
the serf. It's about that man who said it was

better —
oh! a shade among the shades. Better
to be a slave among the living, he said. 1


Oh, the toil Woe to the vanquished.
That one eye has got something to do with the
one ear. [Sighs] That's what they wanted me
to say. There's such a mass of things, you see,
rushing through my mind that I can't catch any-
thing.
[A pause and then sobbing] He was turned into
a fountain that sort of Stephen man, he was
turned into a fountain. Why? that's the point:
Why? . . .

Oh, dear me Now I seem to be walking about


!

a school, and meet a dark boy, and it's the


I —
name of a Field Marshal I'm trying to get, a
German name. And then something says, All
this is only memories revived: it's got nothing to
do with the purely literary— There are two peo-
ple in that literary thing, chiefly concerned in it.

They're very close friends —they've thought it all

out together.
1 Spoken by the shade of Achilles to Ulysses in Hades.

THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 21

Somebody said something about Father Cam


walking —
arm in arm with the Canongate?!
What does that mean?
Oh! [sniffing] what a delicious scent!
No rosebud yet by dew empearled.
I'll try and say it. Hold me tight now while
I try and say it. [Pause.]
It may take some considerable time to get the
necessary references through. But let us peg
away; and keep your provisional impressions to
yourself. May 1 is to hear nothing of all this at
present; because this is something good and worth
doing, and my Aristotelian friend
this point the subject is abruptly broken
[At
offand not referred to again until the very end,
when E. G. (Gurney) intervenes to close the sit-
ting.]
Enough for this time. There is sense in that
which has been got through though some disen-
tanglement, is needed. A Literary Association of
ideas pointing to the influence of two discarnate
minds.

You will doubtless have noticed the recurrence


in this extract of most if not all of the topics al-
ready found in Extract A. I will briefly enumerate
but need not dwell on them further. References
are once more made to

The Ear of Dionysius;


The stone-quarries in which the vanquished
Athenians worked;
u
I
i May"=Mrs. Verrall.
22 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
Enna (by means of a quotation from The
Garden of Proserpine";
Syracuse ("Wars —a Siege," and " A're-

thusa");
The heel of Italy (Wellington Boot).

The Adventures of Balaustion.


There is also, however, much in the Extract that

is new.
We are now told that an " experiment " is being

attempted ; and that this experiment consists in " a


literary association of ideas," some of which have
already appeared, w hile
T
others are now being intro-
duced for the first time. Much importance is at-

tached to the experiment : it is " something good and

worth doing." There are additional references yet


to come, which may take a " considerable time " to
" get through." Meanwhile Mrs. Verrall (" May ")

is not to be told about it : any provisional impres-


sions the other investigators may form are to be
kept to themselves.
The literary riddle — for such it proves ultimately
to be —which is thus in the course of being pro-
pounded is the work, we are told, of two intimate

friends no longer in the flesh. It is intended to be

characteristic of them, and to serve as evidence of

their personal survival.

The identity of the two friends, indicated without


:

THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 23

disguise in the later extracts, is made sufficiently

clear even in the present one to anybody acquainted


with previous Willett Scripts. They are Professor
*
S. H. Butcher and Dr. A. W. Verrall.

The " man with the glittering eyes I once saw,"


from whom proceeds the word Aristotle, is Pro-
fessor Butcher, The incident referred to is a vision
of Professor Butcher seen by Mrs. Willett on the
night of Jan. 21, 191 1, a few weeks after his death.
I quote the record of it made by Mrs. Willett on the

day following:
" Last night after I had blown out my candle and
was just going to sleep I became aware of the pre-
sence of a man, a stranger, and —almost at the
same moment —knew it was Henry Butcher. I felt

his personality very living, clear, strong, sweetness

and strength combined. A piercing glance. He


made no introduction, and said nothing. So I said

to him :
'
Are you Henry Butcher ? ' He said '
No,
I am Henry Butcher's ghost/ I was rather shocked
at his saying this and said, '
Oh, very well, I'm
not at all afraid of ghosts or of the dead/ He
said, '
Ask Verrall if he remembers our last con-
versation, and say the word to him
"
Ek e tee/

1 Professor Butcher died in December, 1910, and Dr. Ver-


rall in June, 1912.

24 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS


A more detailed reference to this vision will be

found in Extract D. I do not discuss it here further


than to say that the name of the goddess Hecate —
for that is apparently what is meant has a signifi-

cance in connection with Dr. Verrall which would


have been known to Professor Butcher. In the
present context the incident is apparently recalled
only to serve as a clue to the identity of the man who
says '
Aristotle.' The word 'Aristotle/ combined
with 'Poetry/ is itself an additional clue; for
Butcher wrote a work upon Aristotle's Poetics
which is well known to all classical scholars. Hence
"
the description of him as " my Aristotelian friend

given later on in the extract.


Two other symbolic references to Prof. Butcher
are contained in Extract B. " Father Cam walking
arm in arm with the Canongate " signifies the asso-

ciation, in the persons of Verrall and Butcher, of


the Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh.
Butcher was himself a highly distinguished Cam-
bridge man, and in later life represented his Uni-
versity in the House of Commons; but he was also

for many years Professor of Greek at Edinburgh.


The Rose, and the perfume of the Rose are re-

peatedly used in Willett Scripts as symbols of Prof.


Butcher, for a reason which his personal friends
will readily understand. We shall come across the
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 25

same symbols again in Extract D. Note that here


the automatist seems to become conscious of the
scent before she connects it with the flower. " No
rosebuds yet by dew impearled " is a quotation from
Swinburne's Etude Realiste, with the substitution
of "dew" for "dawn."
Mrs. Willett, it may be as well to say, had never
met Professor Butcher. She knew him, however,
by name, and knew that he was a close friend of
the Verralls.

As regards Dr. Verrall, there is only one direct


allusion to him in Extract B apart from the Father
Cam reference already mentioned; but that one is

unmistakable. The automatist says she seems to


be walking about a school and to meet a dark boy.
She tries to get the name of a German Field Mar-
shal. " Then something says, All this is only mem-
ories revived; it has nothing to do with the purely
literary thing " in which the two friends are closely

concerned.
The school is Wellington; the dark boy is Ver-
rall; the memories revived are his memories. The
German Field Marshal is Blikher, whose name was
given to one of the college dormitories. Mrs. Wil-
lett probably knew that Verrall was educated at

Wellington; and she certainly had had the oppor-


tunity of knowing that one of the College dormi-
26 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
tories was named after Blucher, as this circumstance

was mentioned in the notes to a script of Mrs.


Verrall's which she had seen. The passage gives
no ground for inferring a knowledge supernorm-
ally imparted though it effectively serves its purpose
of designating a particular individual.

To resume: We have now learnt that the subjects

associated together in Extract A and reproduced in

Extract B are intended to find their place in some


kind of literary scheme carefully thought out and
devised by two friends who in their lifetime were
eminent classical scholars. They are, as it were,
pieces which have to be fitted into a single whole
more or less after the manner of a jig-saw puzzle.

The tale of pieces, however, is not yet complete.


Two additional subjects of great importance lie

embedded in Extract B, and my next task must be


to disengage them. They are the stories of Poly-
phemus and Ulysses, and of Acis and Galatea —the
first derived from Homer's Odyssey, the second
from Ovid's Metamorphoses? though best known
to most people through the famous musical setting

of the tale by Handel.


In the story told by Homer, Ulysses is overtaken
by a storm on his voyage home from Troy, and
iBook xiii. 738 ff.
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 27

driven to the country of the Lotus Eaters. He


1
reaches next the land of the Cyclopes, a race of
one-eyed giants to whom the laws of hospitality are

unknown. Going ashore with twelve of his com-


panions he enters the cave where dwells one of the
giants, by name Polyphemus, a son of the sea-god
Poseidon. Polyphemus is away tending his flocks

and herds, but returns towards evening, and, dis-

covering the strangers, imprisons them in his cave,


and proceeds to devour them two at a time in three
successive meals. But Ulysses and his six remain-
ing companions have devised a terrible revenge.
They prepare a stake of olive wood with its end
sharpened to a point ; and having made the Cyclops
dead drunk with wine they had brought from the
ship, plunge the end of the stake into the embers,
and bore out the monster's single eye with its glow-
ing point. Next morning when the blinded giant

rolls away the stone from the mouth of the cave


to let his flock pass out himself remaining in the
doorway to catch his tormentors, Ulysses and his
companions escape from his clutches concealed be-
neath the bellies of the sheep and clinging to their
fleeces.

The allusions to this story are scattered in a fine

1 Ancient tradition placed the Cyclopes in Sicily. Homer


himself is silent on the point.
28 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
confusion through the script; but once we have the
key in our hand there is no difficulty in detecting

them. The one eye, the "12 little nigger boys think-
ing not of Styx, Some were eaten up and then
there were six," the reference to Homer, to a cave

and a group of men, to Poseidon with his trident,

to the flaming torch, to Noah and the grapes — all

fall into place once we realize that they belong

to the story of Ulysses and Polyphemus.


The allusion to the meeting of Ulysses in the

Underworld with " the great Achilles whom we


knew " seems at first sight irrelevant. I suspect it

is only a roundabout way of suggesting Ulysses


himself. The actual names of the two principal
characters in the story are never mentioned; and
the same remark applies to the story of Acis and
Galatea. In this tale, as in the other, the one-eyed

Cyclops plays the part of villain of the piece. Acis,

a shepherd dwelling at the foot of Mount Etna, and


Galatea the sea nymph, are lovers. Unfortunately
for them, Galatea is also beloved of the " monster
Polypheme," as Handel's libretto calls him. Rejected
by the nymph, and mad with jealousy, he hurls a
mighty rock at his rival and crushes him to death.

Galatea cannot save her lover, but she gives him a


kind of immortality by changing him into the stream
which bears his name and has its source in a fountain
:

THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 29

issuing from the rock beneath which he was over-


whelmed.
Two passages in Extract B refer to this story.

The first speaks of " a Fountain on the hill side,"

followed by a rough drawing intended for a volcano.


The second occurs towards the end of the Extract
" He was turned into a fountain that sort of Stephen

man, he was turned into a fountain. Why? that's


"
the point : Why? " " That sort of Stephen man
describes, of course, the manner in which Acis came
by his death. To the question Why? an answer
is given in Extract C. There is a point in it, but a
point which only becomes intelligible when the whole

of the riddle has been read.


Up to this stage the riddle remains a riddle still.

At all events, it did so for me. We are told to join

the one ear to the one eye; but I doubt if any one
in this room can say how the Ear of Dionysius and
the stone quarries of Syracuse are connected with

the stories of Polyphemus and Ulysses and of Acis


and Galatea except by the geographical accident of
their all belonging to Sicily. Such a mere geograph-
ical unity would hardly justify the communicators
in describing their scheme as " something good
and worth doing " which it had taken the united
industry of two distinguished scholars to think
out.
30 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
Let us see what assistance we can get from the
next script.

C
(Extract from Script of March 2, 1914.)

(Present: G. W. B.)

The Aristotelian to the Hegelian friend greet-


ing. Also the Rationalist to the Hegelian friend
greeting. 1 These twain be about a particular task
and now proceed with it.

a Zither that belongs the sound also stones


the toil of prisoners and captives beneath the
Tyrant's rod
The Stag not Stag, do go on
Stagyr write rite
[Here Mrs. W. ceased writing and proceeded
to dictate.]
Somebody said to me Mousike.
Do you know, an odd thing, I can see Ed-
it's

mund as if he were working something; and the


thing he is working is me. It isn't really me, you

!"The Aristotelianfriend" is S. H. Butcher. "The


Rationalist friend " A. W. Verrall, possibly with allusion
is

to his book Euripides the Rationalist. " The Hegelian


friend " is myself. It would have been natural for Butcher
and Verrall so to describe me in old Cambridge days.

THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 31

know; only a sort of asleep me that I can


it's

look at. —
He's very intent and those two men I
don't know. One's very big and tall, with a black
beard. The other man I don't see so well. But
he holds up a book to me.
Oh Somebody wrote a book about something,
!

and this man, who's holding up the book, wrote


a book about him. And the reference he wants
isn't just now to what he wrote, but to what this
person he wrote about wrote.
What does Ars Poetica mean?
Edmund said to me Juvenal also wrote satires
and then he laughed and said, Good shot.
The pen is mightier than the sword. Oh, it's

so confusing stones belong, and so does a pen.
Oh!
Somebody said, Try her with the David story.
She might get it that way. The man he sent to
battle hoping he'd get killed, because he wanted
him out of the way.
A green-eyed monster.
Now, all of a sudden I had it. Jealousy, that
first infirmity of petty minds.
What does Sicilian Artemis 1 mean? [Pause.]
Such an odd old human story of long ago
He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear.
What is an ear made for?
Oh, this old bothersome rubbish is so tiresome.
[As she said this Mrs. W. banged her arms
down in the table as if in disgust. Presently she
1 Perhaps a reference to Artemis Alphaea (or Alpheia),
who had a temple at Syracuse, and was associated with the
story of the nymph Arethusa. See under Alpheus in the
Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.
32 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
seized my pencil and drew the same figure as in
the previous sitting, of an ear and the oval of a
face. From this point onwards she wrote instead
of dictating.]

Find the centre [Here she added the eye.]


Not to you to Golden numbers golden num-
bers, 1 but add i to i two singles, dissimilar things,
but both found normally in pairs in human anat-
omy — Good.
Gurney says she has done enough now but there
is more, much more, later. Until the effort is
completed the portions as they come are not to be
seen by any other automatist.
E.G.

After what has already been said there is compara-


tively little in this extract that requires further ex-

planation. Nevertheless some important additions


are made in it to the stock of materials at our
disposal.

First, an answer has been given to the emphatic


question asked in the previous script concerning the
cause which led to Acis having been changed into

^•From Dekker's Patient Grissel: "To add to golden num-


bers golden numbers." There seems to be no special point
in the quotation here.
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 33

a fountain. The cause was Jealousy —a lover's

jealousy, like that which sent Uriah to perish in the

forefront of battle. Jealousy, then, is one of the


pieces which have to be fitted into the finished picture

of our jig-saw puzzle.


Next, mention is made for the first time of a
Zither — the sound of which instrument, we are
told, " belongs " — also of Mousike, the Greek word
for the Art of Music. Further, the references to
Aristotle seem to carry with them a significance

beyond what they possessed in the previous script.

There they appeared to serve merely as a symbol of


S. H. Butcher. Here they are apparently introduced
on their own account as well. " The Stagirite " is

a correct description of Aristotle, who was born at

Stageira, a seaport in Macedonia. It would seem,


however, an odd title to use in this place unless with
the deliberate purpose of inviting attention. Again,
a few sentences later it is explicitly stated that a

reference is wanted not to what Butcher wrote about


Aristotle, but to something which Aristotle himself
wrote; and we are left to infer from the words
Ars Poetica which follow that this something is to

be found in Aristotle's Treatise on Poetry.

Lastly, a rather quaint transition leads up to yet

another new subject. The Latin words Ars Poetica


to a classical scholar suggest Horace more readily
34 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
than Aristotle. Horace is not actually named; but
the thought of him is clearly implied in the inter-

polated remark attributed to Edmund Gurney,


" Juvenal also wrote Satires." " Juvenal "
also

must mean " Juvenal as well as Horace." Aristotle,

I need hardly say, did not write satires.

We have here, I think, one of those subtle touches


not uncommon in Mrs. Willett's automatic produc-

tions, and making strongly for their genuineness.

The idea which the communicator wants to " get


through " is that of Satire. The name of Juvenal,
the Satirist par excellence —a name which has pre-
viously occurred in Willett Script— serves as a

stepping-stone, by means of an association familiar


to any educated person. On the other hand, the

train of association which leads from Aristotle's

Poetics to Juvenal, using Horace as an unexpressed-


middle term, seems to me altogether foreign to Mrs.

Willett, and outside the scope of any knowledge with


which she can reasonably be credited.

At the risk of over-refining I venture further to

suggest that the transition to Juvenal was an im-


promptu one for the communicator himself. It

occurs to him on the spur of the moment as a


" happy thought and it is this as well as its suc-
" ;

cess in eliciting the required idea of satire that makes


him laughingly describe it as a " good shot."
: ;

THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 33


The notion of satire is continued in the words
that immediately follow :
" The pen is mightier
than the sword. . . . stones belong and so does a

pen." As they stand these words are rather obscure


but the sequel shows that the " stones " are the
stones of the quarry-prisons, and the pen is the pen

of a satirist.

Let me now recapitulate. The scripts have fur-


nished us with a number of disjointed topics: the

problem is to combine them into a literary unity.

Here is list of the leading topics so far given

The Ear of Dionysius.


The stone-quarries of Syracuse in which prison-
ers were confined.

The story of Polyphemus and Ulysses.


The story of Acis and Galatea.
Jealousy.
Music and the sound of a musical instrument.
Something to be found in Aristotle's Poetics.

Satire.

I have already compared these topics to the sepa-


rate piece in a jig-saw puzzle. They might perhaps
be still more aptly likened to the letters in a letter-
game. Each letter has a significance of its own;
their joint significance is only realised when the
36 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
word they together spell has been discovered. The
whole is more than the sum of its parts.

Now obviously, if one or more of the parts are

missing the difficulty of divining the whole is pro-


gressively increased. Extract C, you will notice, ends

with an intimation that more is to come, and re-

peats the injunction, already given as respects Mrs.

Verrall, but now made general, that the portions

as they come are not to be shewn to any other auto-


matist until the effort is completed. Mr. Piddington
and I, who were studying the scripts were accord-
ingly content to wait without troubling our heads

overmuch about an answer to the conundrum, until

more light should be vouchsafed, either by further


scripts from Mrs. Willett, or by means of cross-

correspondences elsewhere.
For a long time we waited in vain. There is,

indeed, reason to think that some attempts were


made to produce a cross-correspondence in the script

of one of our automatists, whom we call Mrs. King


— especially by means of references to the story of
1
Acis and Galatea. Otherwise the whole subject
seemed to be unaccountably dropped and ; it was not
until nearly a year and a half later, in August, 191 5,
that a return to it was made. The " sitter " on this

occasion was Mrs Verrall, who, it must be remem-


1 See Appendix to this Paper.
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 37
bered, had not been allowed to see either of the

scripts from which Extracts B and C have been


taken.

The relevant passages in this new script are

contained in Extract D.

D.

(Extract from Script of Aug. 2, 1915.)

(Present: Mrs. Verrall.)

Someone speaks a tall broad figure with a


dark beard & eyes that emit light with him stands
the man who said I am Henry Butcher's ghost
do you remember?
Ecate
(Mrs. V. Yes.)
not the one who holds a Rose in his hand. His
hand is resting on the shoulder of the younger
man & it is he who calls.
The Aural instruction was I think understood
Aural appertaining to the Ear
(Mrs. V. Yes.)
and now he asks HAS the Satire satire been
identified
(Mrs. V. I don't know.)
Surely you have had my messages concerning
it [it] belongs to the Ear & comes in
(Mrs. V. I have not had any messages.)
It has a thread. Did they not tell you of refer-
ences to a Cave
38 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
(Mrs. V. No, not in connection with the Ear
of Dionysius.)
The mild eyed melancholy Lotus Eaters came.
That belongs to the passage 1 immediately be-
fore the one I am now trying to speak of. men
in a cave herds
(At this point Mrs. V. repeated, half aloud,
the last two words.)
listen don't talk, herds & a great load of fire-

wood & the eye


olive wood staff

Ai

the man clung to the fleece of a Ram & so


passed out
surely that is plain
(Mrs. V. Yes.)
well conjoin that with Cythera & the Ear-man
The Roseman said Aristotle then Poetics The
incident was chosen as being evidential of iden-
tity & it arose out of the Ear train of thought.
There is a Satire
write Cyclopean Masonry, why do you say
masonry I said Cyclopean
Philox He laboured in the stone quarries and
1 I.e. to the passage in the Odyssey preceding that which
tells the story of Polyphemus.
2 " Ai," perhaps an expression of pain, representing the
Greek alal.
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 39
drew upon the earlier writer for material for his
Satire Jealousy
The story is quite clear to me & I think it

should be identified
a musical instrument comes in something like

a mandoline

t,

thrumming thrumming that is the sense of the


word 1
He wrote in those stone quarries belonging to
the Tyrant
Isany of this clear?
(Mrs. V. Yes, a great deal, and when I know
some things I have not been told, probably all.)

[Drawing of an Ear.]
You have to put Homer with another 2
& the

1 What word is here meant? It would seem to be a word


—perhaps —
a Greek word which the communicator has been
unable to get the automatist to write. I suspect an allusion
to a passage in the Plutus of Aristophanes (1. 200), which
parodies the Cyclops of Philoxenus, and perhaps actually
quotes from the poem. In this passage the made-up word
QpeTTave?i6 (threttanelo) is used to imitate the sound of
the cithara. The mysterious figure, or letter, which pre-
cedes " thrumming " in the script, may be the beginning
of an attempt to write this word.
2 " You have to put Homer with another." Who is this
" other " ? Perhaps Philoxenus himself is meant, though
this interpretation does not consist very well with the state-
ment which immediately follows, that what resulted was
" the pen dipped in vitriol." The more natural meaning
would seem to be that the "other" who is to be put with
Homer is a second writer from whom Philoxenus had bor-
rowed in constructing the plot of his Cyclops. Can the in-
40 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
Ear theme is in it too The pen dipped in vitriol
that is what resulted &SH
1
knows the passage
in Aristotle which also comes in There's a fine
tangle for your unravelling & he of the impa-
2
tience will
Let her wait try again Edmund
Sicily
He when you have identified the
says classical
allusionshe would like to be told.
(Mrs. V. Yes.)
In this Extract, again, there is little with which
we are not already familiar. But that little contains
the key to the puzzle.
" Cythera " ; " Cyclopean, Philox, He laboured
in the stone-quarries and drew upon the earlier

tention have been to refer to the unknown Greek original


from which Ovid derived the story of Acis and Galatea?
Ovid is our earliest extant authority for this story; but
there can be little doubt that he took it from a Greek liter-
ary source, though we do not know what that source was.
" The earlier writer " from whom, according to the script,
Philoxenus drew the materials of his satire, might on this
supposition be, not Homer, but the Greek predecessor from
whom Ovid borrowed.
I by no means dismiss this conjecture, which has come
to me from a scholar of repute. It is a pity, indeed, that
the evidence for it is not stronger. An allusion to the original
source of the tale of Acis and Galatea, like the allusion sug-
gested in a previous note to a passage from the Plutus of
Aristophanes, would come naturally enough from Verrall, but
could never have proceeded from the unaided resources of
Mrs. Willett.
1 Professor Butcher was familiarly known among his old

friends by the two first initials of his name.


2 See footnote on
p. 52.
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 41

writer for material for his Satire, Jealousy


" — in

these words I will not say that he who runs may


read the riddle, but he will certainly have a fair ink-
ling of it if he first takes the trouble to read up the
account given of a certain Philoxenus of Cythera
in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biog-
raphy and Mythology or in the Encyclopaedia Bri-
tannica.

Those of us who are not specialists in classical

literature need not blush to confess ignorance of the


very name of Philoxenus. He was nevertheless a

poet of considerable repute in antiquity though only


a few lines from his works have actually come down
to us.

Philoxenus was a writer of dithyrambs, a species


of irregular lyric poetry which combined music
with verse, the musical instrument most generally
employed being the Kithara or Zither, a kind of
lyre. He was a native of Cythera, and at the height
of his reputation spent some time in Sicily at the
Court of Dionysius the Tyrant of Syracuse. He
ultimately quarrelled with his patron and was sent
to prison in one of the stone-quarries.
So far the accounts that have come down to us
agree; but they differ as to the cause of the quarrel.
Most writers, according to the Dictionary of Greek
and Roman Biography and Mythology, ascribe the
'

42 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS


oppressive action of Dionysius " to the wounded
vanity of the tyrant, whose poems Philoxenus not
only refused to praise, but, on being asked to revise
one of them, said the best way of correcting it would
be to draw a black line through the whole paper.'
This version of the quarrel is also followed by the
writer in the Encyclopedia Britannica, and by Grote
x
in his History of Greece. There was, however,
another account, mentioned in the Dictionary of
Biography and Mythology only to be rejected,

which ascribed the disgrace of the poet " to too close


an intimacy with the tyrant's mistress Galateia."
I now come to the heart of the mystery which has
hitherto baffled us. The most famous of the dithy-
rambic poems of Philoxenus was a piece entitled
Cyclops or Galatea. Of this poem only two or three
lines have been preserved; and any attempt to re-
construct its plot must depend on other sources of
information. The Encyclopcedia Britannica says
of it :
" His masterpiece was the Cyclops, a pastoral

burlesque on the love of the Cyclops for the fair


Galatea, written to avenge himself upon Dionysius,
who was wholly or partially blind of one eye." This
falls in well with the references in the scripts to

Satire; but does not provide much of a foundation


for the references to the stories of Ulysses and Poly-

iVol. X. 303.
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 43

phemus and of Acis and Galatea, and to the topic of

jealousy. The Dictionary of Biography and My-


thology helps even less. Moreover, it states that

the poem was composed in the poet's native island;

whereas the script affirms that it was written in the

stone-quarries.

I have searched through various other English


authorities and books of reference as well as a few
foreign ones, in order to discover, if possible,

whether there was any single modern source from


which the story told or implied in the scripts could

be supposed to be derived. Apart from works in

German —languages which Mrs. Willett


or Latin
does not understand — there are only two books, so
far as I have been able to discover, which can fairly

be said to fulfill this condition. One of these is

Lempriere's Classical Dictionary. Lempriere's ac-


count is as follows :
" A dithyrambic poet of Cyth-
era, who enjoyed the favour of Dionysius tyrant of
Syracuse for some time, till he offended him by se-

ducing one of his female singers. During his con-

finement Philoxenus composed an allegorical poem,


called Cyclops, in which he had delineated the char-
acter of the tyrant under the name of Polyphemus,
and represented his mistress under the name of
Galatea, and himself under that of Ulysses." The
other is a work on the Greek Melic Poets by Dr.
44 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
Herbert Weir Smyth, Professor of Greek at Bryn
Mawr College, Pennsylvania, obviously intended for

scholars, and not in the least likely to attract atten-

tion from the general public. The copy I have seen


was a presentation copy sent by the publishers to

the late Dr. Verrall, who thought well of the book


and used it (so Mrs. Verrall told me) as a text-

book in connection with some of his lectures.


" Like Simonides," writes Professor Smyth,
" Philoxenus was a man of the world, a friend of
princes, and many stories are told of his nimble wit

at the Syracusan Court. His friendship with


Dionysius the Elder was finally broken either by his
frank criticism of the tragedies of the tyrant or in
consequence of his passion for Galateia, a beautiful
flute-player, who was the mistress of Dionysius.

Released from prison by the prince to pass judgment


on his verse, the poet exclaimed : an ay a jie eh
Xarojulag [take me back to the quarries]. In his
confinement he revenged himself by composing his
famous dithyramb entitled either Kyklops or
Galateia, in which the poet represented himself as
Odysseus, who, to take vengeance on Polyphemus
(Dionysius), estranged the affections of the nymph
Galateia, of whom the Kyklops was enamoured."
Here evidently is the literary unity of which we
were in search and which was to collect the scattered
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 45

parts of the puzzle devised by the two friends on the


other side into a single whole. It is to be found in
the version just given of the plot of the Cyclops of
Philoxenus. Dionysius and his " Ear," the stone-
quarries of Syracuse, Ulysses and Polyphemus, Acis

and Galatea, Jealousy, and Satire — all these topics

fall naturally and easily into place in relation to this


1
account of the poem. Music and the thrumming
of a musical instrument can be fitted in without

much difficulty, as belonging to the characteristics

of dithyrambic poetry. It only remains to trace the


passage in Aristotle which " comes in " and which
" S. H. knows."
There are two passages occurring within a page
of each other in the first and second chapters of
Aristotle's Poetics, either of which might be the
passage referred to. One of these is general, and
classes the dithyramb with those kinds of poetry
which depend for their effects not only upon rhythm
and metre, but also upon melody. The other distin-
guishes between the poetry which aims at represent-
ing men as worse, and that which aims at repre-

senting them as better, than they really are; and


mentions the Cyclops of Philoxenus as a specimen of
1 The ancient authority followed by both Lempriere and
Prof. Smyth is Athenasus, a late Greek writer, whose work
may well have been known to Butcher or Verrall, but could
not possibly be known to Mrs. Willett.

46 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS


the former —that is to say, as a Satirical poem.

This second passage is referred to by Professor

Smyth in the paragraph following the one I have


1
already quoted. The same paragraph lays stress

upon the essentially musical character of the dithy-

ramb, and upon the fame of Philoxenus as musical


composer no less than as poet. It quotes the comic
poet Antiphanes, who spoke of him as " a god among
men, cunning in the true art of music " oiSgd? rrjv

Extract D closes with a request from Gurney that


he should be told as soon as the classical allusions

had been identified. This request was complied with


about a fortnight later, as will be seen from Extract
E, the last with which I shall have to trouble you.

E.

{Extract from Script of Aug. 19, 1915.)

(Present: G. W. B.)

(G. W. B. First of all, Gurney, I want to tell


you that all the classical allusions recently given
to Mrs. Verrall are now completely understood.)
1 Professor Smyth's words are :
" Aristotle says that Phil-
oxenus was realistic to the idealistic Timo-
in distinction
theos."This interpretation gives a somewhat different shade
of meaning to Aristotle's language from that which I have
adopted above.
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 47
Good — at last!
(G. W. B. We think the whole combination
extremely ingenious and successful.)
& A W ish—
(G. W. B. What is the word after " A. W."?)
A W-ish
(G. W. B. Yes.)
Also S H-ish
(G. W. B. Yes.)

The communicator hints that a little more ex-


pedition might have been shown in solving the prob-

lem set to us. He apparently forgets that in March,

1914, he himself informed us that there was much


more to be got through, and that we had waited for
a year and a half before any additional light was
forthcoming. The surprise shown in Extract D
that no message concerning a Satire and the Ear of
Dionysius and the Cave of the Cyclops had been
handed on to Mrs. Verrall shows an even more
marked forgetfulness; for we had been expressly
warned to tell her nothing. Such forgetfulness is

very rare in our experience. I doubt whether a


parallel instance could be found in the scripts of any
of our group of automatists. I have no explanation
to offer of it.

For the rest, the extract I have just read is chiefly

interesting for its insistence upon the claim that the


wmole scheme is characteristic of the two friends
48 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
who have devised it, and therefore points to the
survival of their distinctive personalities.

That the case described in this Paper is an ex-


tremely remarkable one, few, I think, will be dis-
posed to deny. Mrs. Willett is in no sense a
" learned " lady. She has a taste for poetry, and a
good knowledge of certain English poets; but with
classical subjects she is as little familiar as the

average of educated women. This I can affirm with


confidence, and I have had good opportunity of
judging.
In order to test her knowledge of the particular
topics referred to in this series of scripts I pre-

pared six questions, writing them out on separate


pieces of paper, and asked her to answer them then
and there as each question was handed to her. This
was on the 27th of May last when I was setting to

work on the present paper. Questions and answers


were as follows. (You will of course bear in mind
that all the scripts, except that from which Extract
A is taken, were obtained when the automatist was
in trance, and that no memory of what she writes
or speaks in trance is carried on into her waking
consciousness.)

Qn. 1. Please say what you know about the Ear


of Dionysius?
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 49
Ans. I have heard this expression, but do not
know what is the meaning of it.

Qu. 2. (a) Did you know that Aristotle had


written a Treatise on Poetry?
Ans. No.
(b) Were you aware that S. H. Butcher
had written a book on the subject of this Treatise?

Ans. No.
Qu. 3. Does the name Cythera convey any
meaning to you?
Ans. Yes, it conveys to me the Greek name of
one of the winds — I believe mentioned in In
Memoriam.
Qu. 4. Do you know anything about the story
of Adis and Galatea?
Ans. Of Acis I know nothing; of Galatea 1

know the story of the statue that comes to life.

Qu. 5. Does the name Polyphemus convey any


idea to you?

Ans. I seem to have heard the name, but it has


no associations for me.
Qu. 6. Does the name Philoxenus convey any
idea to you?

Ans. None whatever.


Having obtained these answers I decided to show
Mrs. Willett the extracts which I have read to you
to-day, and explain to her the scheme and its
;

50 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS


denouement. This involved a departure from our
usual practice of withholding from the automatist
any written or spoken utterances produced by her in

a state of trance. No harm, however, was likely to

result in the present case, seeing that the experiment

had evidently reached its conclusion and that no fur-


ther amplifications from " the other side " were to

be looked for. My object was to ascertain whether


perusal of the extracts would awaken any memories
that had remained dormant when the automatist was
answering the questions put to her a few hours be-
fore. As a matter of fact, nothing of the kind oc-
curred. The nearest approach to a revival of mem-
ory was upon my mentioning Handel's Acis and
Galatea. She then said that Handel and Acis and
Galatea seemed to go together in her mind ; but she
was certain she had never either heard the music
or read the story. On the other hand, her ignorance

of matters referred to in the extracts went even


beyond what her answers to the questions indicated
for instance, she could not recall ever having heard

of the Expedition of the Athenians against Syracuse.


Her surprise and almost excitement were quite in-

teresting to watch as the elements of the literary

puzzle were gradually made clear and finally brought


to a unity in the Satire of Philoxenus. It was
abundantly evident that both the elements them-
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 51

selves and the final solution were entirely outside

any conscious knowledge she possessed.


In March, 1914, I read a Paper to the Society
giving an account of an earlier case derived from

Willett Scripts in which the principal agent pur-


ported to be Dr. Verrall. This Paper was subse-
quently published in Volume XXVII. of the

Proceedings under the title " Some recent scripts

affording evidence of personal survival." The facts

of the case, which I shall refer to as " the Statius

Case," were briefly these: A passage was to be


searched for which described a traveller looking
across a river and wishing himself on the other side,

but hesitating to battle with the current. If it were


possible to identify the passage, " the matter," so

we were told, " would prove interesting." No pas-


sage satisfactorily answering the required conditions
could be found by those who were studying the
Willett Scripts, and the subject was almost for-

gotten until the scripts suddenly returned to it more


than a year later. Two new lights were then thrown
upon the problem. In the first place, Dr. Verrall
was unmistakably designated as the propounder of
it; in the second place, a sign-post was provided by
the statement " Dante makes it clear." Guided by
these indications we ultimately traced the required

passage to an Essay by Dr. Verrall entitled " Dante


52 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
on the Baptism of Statius," which it was practically

certain that Mrs. Willett had never seen. Thus the

promise, that if the passage could be identified the

matter would prove interesting, was amply fulfilled,

and a valuable addition made to the evidences


hitherto furnished by automatic writings in favour
1
of personal survival.

1 It is only fair to say that criticisms of my Paper on


the Statius Case have appeared in the Proceedings (Vol.
XXVII., pp. 458-574), attacking my interpretation of the
on the double ground that
scripts I had shown no sufficient
reason for connecting Dr. Verrall with the case at all, nor
for selecting the River of Baptism which Statius hesitated
when the River
to cross as the particular river referred to,
of Death in the Pilgrim's Progress, or the Rubicon, or any
other river on the brink of which anyone had ever paused
might have served the purpose equally well.
As regards the connection of Dr. Verrall with the case,
this was to my mind clearly given by the reference to the
communicator who " Swears he will not here exercise any
patience whatever, not even about Lavender and Lub," and
by the plain allusions (as seemed to me) to Dr. Verrall's
it

recently delivered on Dryden.


Lectures That the scripts
meant to indicate Dr. Verrall as the communicator it did
not occur to me that anyone would question, else I would
have laboured the point more. Of course it does not fol-
low that he actually was the communicator; and though I
fancy my critics have confused the one thing with the other,
I am sure no such confusion can be found in my Paper.

As if to remove any possible uncertainty as to who was


meant, the phrase " He of the little patience," which had
already been employed to describe the communicator in the
earlier scripts, is again repeated in the Dionysius Case (see
Extract D "he of the impatience"), and this time beyond
all cavil as a synonym for Dr. Verrall.
The identification of the passage describing the timid
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 53

Between the Statius Case and that described in the

present Paper, which I may call the Dionysius


Case, there is obviously a strong family likeness.
The method employed, the object proposed, and the
chief professed agent are the same in both.

The method is to propound a literary problem


the construction and solution of which are outside
the range of the automatisms normal knowledge.
The solution is at first kept purposely obscure and
it is left to the industry of the interpreters of the

script to discover it. When they have failed to


do so after ample time given additional indications
are doled out in successive scripts until at last the
riddle is read.

The chief ostensible agent in each case is Dr.


traveller is, I admit, more conjectural. I have, however,
little or no doubt that it is right. It explains (1) the special
interest attached to the discovery of the passage;
(2) the
statement that "Dante makes
clear"; and (3) the para-
it

phrase of the lines in the Purgatorio which Dante puts into


the mouth of Statius and which Dr. Verrall's Essay quotes.
The by my critics do none of these things.
rivers suggested
It also gives a point and significance to the whole incident,
which would otherwise be wanting, by making it into a prob-
lem with a solution. Additional corroboration is, I think,
furnished by the circumstance that another problem with
a solution, similar though much more complicated, follows
so soon afterwards. The Dionysius Case throws light on the
Statius Case that preceded it. In this connection it may
be of interest to note that the scripts had already begun on
the former before my Paper on the latter had been pub-
lished, and therefore before anything had been done which
could put Mrs. Willett on the track of our interpretation.
54 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
Verrall, though in the Dionysius case he is associated
with S. H. Butcher.
The object in each case is to furnish ground for
believing that the ostensible agent or agents are also

the real ones continuing to exist as individuals after


bodily death.

How far has this object been achieved in the case

now before us?


There are two ways in which this question may
be approached. The hypothesis that the ostensible
are also the actual communicators is one of several
possible alternative explanations. If we can test

these alternatives in relation to the facts of the case,

and find ourselves compelled to reject all but one,

that one must be regarded as holding the field. This


negative method of procedure is to my mind likely

to prove the most fruitful; but we shall also have


to consider how far the facts afford positive grounds
for accepting the identity claimed in the scripts.

In my Paper on the Statius Case I analysed with


some care the various alternative explanations which
appear, I will not say probable, but at all events pos-
sible. What I have said there applies mutatis mut-
andis here also; and therefore I may be the more
brief on the present occasion.
In all such cases four main questions have to be
:

THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 55

asked. The first two relate to the knowledge ex-


hibited in the scripts

(1). Did this knowledge reach the automatist


normally ?
(2). If not normally, is there anybody living

from whose mind it can be plausibly supposed to


have been supplied ?
The third and fourth questions relate to the use

made of the knowledge, however acquired — in other

words, to the design exhibited in the scripts. Design


implies a planning or constructing intelligence. Ac-
cordingly :

(3). Can the planning intelligence responsible for


the design — in the Dionysius Case the extremely
elaborate design —which the scripts reveal be plaus-

ibly supposed to have been that of the automatist


herself whether conscious or subconscious?
(4) . Can it plausibly be supposed to have been the

mind of some living person actively impressing its

thoughts upon the mind of the automatist?


In the Dionysius Case, if we are willing to follow
where the evidence actually before us leads, instead

of attaching ourselves immoveably to preconceived


ideas of what is possible or impossible, our answer

to all these questions must I think, be in the nega-


tive.

(1). The evidence goes to show that knowledge


56 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
concerning Philoxenus of Cythera, his relations with
Dionysius, and his poem Cyclops or Galatea, was not
normally acquired by the automatist.
On this point we have first of all her own declara-

tion of complete ignorance. Mrs. Willett is a lady


of good social position, personally well known to

all the members of the investigating group, every

one of whom has the most absolute confidence


in her integrity and bona fides. She is herself

keenly alive to the importance of noting and record-


ing anything that can help to throw light upon the
contents of her scripts and the possible sources
which may have been drawn upon in their produc-

tion. In this respect she has, on many occasions,

been of material assistance to the investigators.


When Mrs. Willett says she is totally ignorant of a

particular topic, no one who knows her as we do


would for a moment question her word.
No doubt it is possible for knowledge once pos-
sessed to be forgotten and yet to persist as a dor-
mant memory in the subconscious mind. But this

possibility must not be pressed too far. It is press-

ing it very far indeed to suppose that at some time


or other Mrs. Willett either read or heard the story
of Philoxenus that she then forgot it completely so
far as her normal consciousness was concerned, but
was nevertheless able subconsciously to retain and
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 57

use it in the concoction of an elaborate puzzle such


as we are now considering.

Nor is this all. It is not merely of Philoxenus


and his poem that Mrs. Willett declares herself ig-

norant, but also of other main elements in the puz-

zle, the story of Ulysses and Polyphemus for in-

stance, and that of Acis and Galatea, to say nothing

of the " passage from Aristotle." The intelligence

that constructed the puzzle was certainly aware of


the details of these stories, and also knew that the

adventure of the Cyclops' Cave immediately follows


the tale of the Lotus Eaters in the Homeric narra-
tive. It is not easy to believe that the various
threads so cunningly woven together all belong to
the category of latent memories which the subcon-
scious self can utilize for its own purposes while
the normal self remans blissfully unconscious of
them.
Again : Let us suppose for argument's sake that
the knowledge of the story of Philoxenus exhibited
in the scripts was normally acquired. From what
source was it in that case derived ? It might be con-
jectured that Mrs. Willett, having in one way or
another had her attention called to the name of
Philoxenus, proceeded to study a variety of authori-
ties, and from their different accounts pieced to-

gether the story as it appears in the scripts. I am


:

58 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS


not suggesting that such a conjecture has any plausi-
bility. Mrs. Willett's knowledge of things classical

is small, and her interest in them but slight. That


she should have undertaken the labour involved in
this research is very unlikely. But that, having
undertaking it, the whole subject should then pass
out of her conscious memory is, to me at least, in-

credible.

The alternative (and less improbable) conjecture

is that she took the story bodily either from Lem-


priere's Classical Dictionary or from Professor
Smyth's Greek Melic Poets, and then forgot that
x
she had ever known it.

As regards the Greek Melic Poets, I think it on


general grounds very unlikely that she ever had the
volume in her hands, much more than she read any
page of it with care. The book itself is, as I have
already indicated, of an extremely technical charac-

1 On this point Mrs. Willett writes to me as follows


"Lempriere's Classical Dictionary is quite unknown to me.
I am as certain as I am of anything that I never saw or
heard of Prof. Smyth's book. I have never taken a single
volume from the shelves of Dr. Verrall's study. To the
best of my belief, I have never been in that room alone.
During Dr. Verrall's life it was not entered by visitors stay-
ing in the house unless they were taken to see him. After
his death I stayed, I believe, only once with Mrs. Verrall,
and I have sat in the room with her, but I believe I never
was room alone
in the at any time." This confirms a similar
statement made to me verbally by Mrs. Verrall herself.
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 59

ter. Merely to open it at random would repel any-

body but an expert. One would certainly be sur-

prised to come across it anywhere outside a scholar's

library. It is true that Mrs. Willett has once or


twice stayed for a short visit with Mrs. Verrall at
Cambridge, and may conceivably havie seen the
book on one of these occasions. But as its place

was on one of the many shelves in Dr. Verrall's

study, a room rarely entered by visitors unless they

were taken there specially, the chances of such a


thing having happened seem to me very remote.
Lempriere's Classical Dictonary is no doubt a more
accessible work. On the other hand, it is decidedly
more difficult to suppose it the sole or main source
of the puzzle as a whole. Even Professor Smyth's
account of Philoxenus by no means covers all the
elements employed in the puzzle. It does no more
than allude to the story of Ulysses and Polyphemus,
it refers to the stone-quarries only by their Greek
name which Mrs. Willett would not have under-
stood, and it makes no mention whatever of Acis
and Galatea. Lempriere's Dictionary not only
makes no mention of Acis and Galatea, but is silent

also upon the very important topics of Aristotle and


and of music. The old difficulty is thus still with
us. All the topics associated in the scripts must be
assumed, on the supposition that the knowledge
6o THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
shown therein was normally acquired, to have been
at one time or another consciously known to the
automatist. There is no single source from which
they could all be derived. Of nearly every one of
them she now professes total ignorance. Can she
have really forgotten them so completely that no
memory of them is recalled even when the scripts
are shown to her and the whole scheme explained?

To my mind this is most difficult to believe. But,


if we insist upon regarding the knowledge shown
in the scripts to have been normally acquired, then
we must either believe this or believe that Mrs.
Willett's statements are deliberately false. Delib-
erately false I am sure they are not.

(2). There is no living person from whose mind


the more essential materials utilized in the construc-

tion of the puzzle can plausibly be supposed to have


been supplied. The members of the group who were
engaged in studying the Willett scripts were six in

number, namely Sir Oliver Lodge, Mr. Piddington,


Mrs. Sidgwick, Miss Johnson, Mrs. Verrall and my-
self. No one outside the group had seen the scripts.

Mrs. Verrall herself had not seen the scripts from


which Extracts B and C are taken until after the
script containing Extract D had been written. None
of us —and in this statement I expressly include

Mrs. Verrall —knew anything about Philoxenus or


THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 61

his poem until the mention of " Philox " in the


script of Aug. 2, 191 5, led Mrs. Verrall to look up
the name in the Dictionary of Biography and My-
thology. The automatists who were collaborating
with us were equally ignorant. The number even
of professed classical scholars able to supply the re-
quired knowledge without consulting books of ref-
erence is, I venture to think, an extremely limited
one.

Perhaps it will be urged that, limited as the num-


ber may be, there are assuredly some few individuals
in possession of the necessary information. May it

not have passed telepathically from one or more of


these to the automatist?

This supposition appears to me to be one of those


which it is impossible to disprove, but which have
practically nothing to support them.

How are we to conceive of the process taking

place? Are we to imagine Mrs. Willett's mind,

conscious or subconscious, reaching out at large to


an unknown x (or to unknown x, y, and 2), and
gathering in knowledge of the various subjects out
of which the puzzle is woven? That seems a some-
what fantastic notion; and moreover it implies at

least a nucleus of knowledge if not some general


conception of the puzzle itself, round which the rest

of the otherwise miscellaneous information could


62 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
crystallize. Not less fantastic is the suggestion that

an unknown x has been engaged in impressing his

own thoughts upon Mrs. Willett's mind after the


fashion of a hypnotiser trying to act upon his patient
from a distance. If such an x exists let enquiry be

made and let him be produced. Or finally, has there


been no activity on either side, but only an automa-
tic infiltration from mind to mind, unaccompanied
by any consciousness on either side that such a pro-

cess was taking place? This last supposition is, I


think, even less plausible than the others, as it

entirely fails to account for the fact that the ideas

which have thus been unconsciously communicated


are not haphazard ideas, but such as have evidently
been selected in order to serve a purpose. There
must be conscious agency somewhere, else this selec-

tion remains unexplained.

There is no warrant, so far as I am aware, in any


facts hitherto observed in connection with the pheno-

mena of telepathy for believing that particular and


detailed knowledge of the kind involved in this case

is ever telepathically transmitted or received where


no link already exists between the minds concerned
in the process.

(3) and (4). I believe the instinctive judgment


of trained scholars will be that the Dionysius puzzle
could not have been invented, and elaborated with-
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 63

out slip or blunder, except by somebody who was


himself a scholar, and a ripe and good one. Mrs.
Willett herself cannot reasonably be credited with

its authorship. This point is raised in question (3),

but need not be further insisted on her. For the

answers to questions (1) and (2) being in the


negative, the answers to question (3) and (4) must
be in the negative also. As regards question (3),
this conclusion can only be escaped by supposing
the mind of the automatist to have constructed the

puzzle out of materials super-normally derived from


some non-living source — a supposition which not
only has little to 'recommend it in itself, but also

practically gives away the case against communica-


tion from the dead. And as regards question (4),
if there was no living person from whom the ma-
terials could plausibly be supposed to have been de-
rived, still less could there be any living person re-
sponsible for the weaving of these materials into

a design.
If these conclusions be accepted, the only alter-

native left would seem to be that the communica-


tions have their source in some intelligence or in-

telligences not in the body. It does not even then


follow that they proceed from the disembodied
spirits of the individuals whom we knew in life as

A. W. Verrall and S. H. Butcher. Those, however,


64 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
who have got so far as to ascribe them to in-
telligences not in the body are not likely to find any
additional difficulty in the personal identity claimed

for the communicators. To do so would be to

strain at a gnat after swallowing a camel.

Independently of the negative grounds we have


just been considering, are there any positive ones

that may fairly be urged for accepting Verrall and


Butcher as the real authors of this curious literary
puzzle? I think there are, though it is not easy to
estimate their exact value.
The reminder to Mrs. Verrall of the surprise ex-
pressed by her husband at her not knowing what
was meant by the Ear of Dionysius, would be a
very striking incident if it were certain that I had
not mentioned it to Mrs. Willett. As I said before,

I do not believe I did mention it. But I cannot


be absolutely sure, and the doubt precludes me
from laying stress upon it as evidence of
identity.

Extract E claims for the scheme as a whole that


it is " A. W. ish " and " S. H. ish." I think this

is true. The ingenuity of the combination, the un-


expectedness of the solution, and the out-of-the-way
knowledge utilized in it are eminently Verrallian.

In constructing the puzzle Verrall appears to be the


THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 65

leading spirit. Butcher helps with his contribution


from the Poetics of Aristotle. But he ia content

in such a matter to play the second part; and this

too is not uncharacteristic.


The personal traits and mannerisms which im-
pressed Mr. Bayfield so strongly in the Statius

Scripts, and which he dealt with so happily in his

Note appended to my former Paper, are perhaps


not quite so marked in the present case. But I

think old friends of Verrall's will agree with me


that they are not wholly absent, however difficult it

1
may be to enable others to realize them.

—and
Finally think a point of some im-
this I is

portance— we have the remarkable circumstance that


the only account of the contents of the Cyclops of

Philoxenus which at all closely resembles that fol-

lowed in the scripts, and at the same time includes


references to Aristotle and the art of music
(mousike), is to be found, so far as my researches
extend, in a book which we know Verrall to have
been familiar with and to have used as a text-book
for lectures. If this is a chance coincidence it is

at least a curious one. It may well be that the com-


municator had this very circumstance in mind when
1 Note, for instance, the characteristic Verrallian impa-
tience, eagerness, and emphasis in " not
such phrases as
Stag, do go on" Extract C, and
in "HAS
the Satire been
identified?" and "listen, don't talk" in Extract D.
66 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
he made the statement (to be found in Extract D),
" The incident was chosen as being evidential of

identity, and it arose out of the Ear train of


,,
thought.
APPENDIX

Containing extracts from the Scripts of Mrs. King


referred to at p. 36 of the foregoing Paper.

In Mrs. Willett's Script of March 2, 1914 (Vide


Extract C, above), instruction was given that until
the " effort " was completed the portions of it as

they came were not to be shewn to any other auto-


matist. This was almost equivalent to saying that
a cross-correspondence with the script of some other
automatist belonging to the group was about to be

attempted. I believe some attempt of the kind was


made in certain passages from scripts produced by
" Mrs. King." I have not included these in the text
of my Paper on the Ear of Dionysius, partly be-
cause I was unwilling to break the narrative, partly

because the cross-correspondences themselves are not


so clear and unmistakable as to carry unquestioning
conviction. That Mrs. King's scripts taken as a
whole exhibit manifold connections with those of
certain other automatists, of whom Mrs. Willett is

one, I have no doubt at all. But what may well be


67
:

68 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS


in their origin genuine " messages " seem in her case
peculiarly liable to get blurred and sophisticated in
transmission, and therefore difficult to interpret. My
readers must judge for themselves how far the inter-
pretations which I tentatively put forward of the

passages here collected are justified. In support of


the view that a cross-correspondence is being at-
tempted, it should be noticed that the first three pas-

sages all belong to March, 1914; that is to say, that

they were all produced within a few weeks of the


Willett scripts from which Extracts B and C in the

Paper are taken. The dates of the Willett scripts

are Feb. 28 and March 2. The first passage I


quote from Mrs. King was written on the intervening
day, March 1.

(a) (Extract from King Script of March 1,

1914.)

Floating on the waters. People in glass houses


should not throw stones. Very good. Go on like
this and it will be famous. The flames are fanned.
The green leaves in the merry ring time. . . .

Protoplasm and poly —


Something like poly-

phera, cannot quite get it.

Note here the following ideas


(1) Waters, (2) throwing stones, (3) fanning
of flames (cf. Acts and Galatea: " Hush ye pretty
warbling choir, Your thrilling strains awake my

THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 69

pains And kindle fierce desire; " and again, " No


"
grace no charm is wanting To set the heart on fire;

and again, " I rage — I melt — I burn —The feeble

god has stabbed me to the heart "), (4) Life in the

country in spring time (cf. opening chorus in Acis


and Galatea).
" Polyphera " may possibly be an attempt at Poly-
phemus, or Polypheme.
(b) (Extract from King Script of March 13,

1914.)!

The living water —the foam of the torrent.


Margaret, Margaret. Just a stone's throw. The
prick in the Love lies
finger. bleeding. The
merry merry ring time, Sweet lovers love the
spring. The folded hands. Now write this, that
many words are missing, but the sense is there
it is a part 'of something else.

Here we have, repeated from the former script :

(1) Water, (2) throwing of a stone, (3) the


spring and lovers* motif.
The " waters " of the former script have, how-
ever, now become more distinctively a stream; and
the phrase " living water " seems specially appropri-
ate as applied to the fountain and river into which
the dead Acis was changed, becoming thereby im-
mortal. " Margaret, Margaret " ( from Arnold's
Forsaken Merman) , may be intended to suggest
! !

70 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS


the sea-nymph Galatea; while " "
Love lies bleeding
is an apt description of the fate of Acis.
Note that a cross-correspondence is claimed in
the last words of the extract.

(c) (Extract from King Script of March 24,


1914.)

Hark hark the lark at Heaven's gate sings


And morn begins to rise.

The happy happy lovers.


Now comes the storm, the whispered warning
of their fate. Say this that the stones in the pool
are round —the doctored sense.

The first part of "Acis and Galatea ends with a


duet between the lovers " Happy happy happy we."
! !

The second part begins with a chorus of Nymphs


and Shepherds, pianissimo at first (cf. "whispered
warning of their fate"), but finishing fortissimo

(cf. "the storm"). The words are as follows:

" Wretched lovers ! Fate has past


This sad decree, —no joy shall last.

Wretched lovers! quit your dream,

Behold the monster Polypheme!


See what ample strides he takes!
The mountain nods ! the forest shakes
The waves run frightened to the shores
"
Hark how the thundering giant roars !

THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 71

Note again the connection in the Script of stones

and water.
For " the doctored sense " see under Extract (d).

(d) (Extract from King Script of April 1,

1915O

Dionysius . . . Arethusa . . .

Stones in the market place —crying —


the filtered sense . . .

The Sicilian Ode. Blest pair of Sirens.


The meaning is quite clear Do you understand —
it . . .

Arethusa occurs in connection with Dionysius'


Ear in the Willett Script of Feb. 28, 19 14 (Extract
B in the Paper), where it is apparently used to
indicate the locality, viz. Syracuse.
" Stones in the market place —crying " though

more naturally reminiscent of Luke xix. 40, may


possibly be an allusion to the stoning of Stephen.

Cf Acts " And


. vii. 59 and 60 : they stoned Stephen,
calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus receive
my spirit! And he kneeled down, and cried with
a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge."
In the same Willett Script (Feb. 28, 19 14) Acis
is referred to as " that sort of Stephen man."
:

72 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS


With " the filtered sense " compare " the doc-

tored sense" in Extract (c). So far as I am


aware there is no similar phrase to be found any-
where in King script. The meaning is obscure;
but possibly a reference to the acoustic properties
of the Ear of Dionysius may be intended. In any
case "the doctored sense" in Extract (c) must be
taken to refer back to "the filtered sense" in

Extract (d).
The words " Sicilian Ode —Blest pair of Sirens "
suggested to me that " Sicilian " must be a mistake
for " Cecilian," and that the " Ode " must be
Dryden's Ode for St. Cecilia's Day. On my asking
Mrs. King, however, immediately after the script

was finished, in what sense she had understood


the adjective, she at once replied " Sicilian, not
Cecilian, was what I saw — difficult to say whether
seen or heard first." This is confirmed by her con-
temporaneous note on Arethusa: " Impression of
river in Sicily — I have been there."
It seems to me not unlikely that in " The Sicilian

Ode " we have an allusion either to the Cyclops or

Galatea of Philoxenus, or to the Acts and Galatea


of Handel —perhaps to both. An essential feature

in both is the combination of music with verse : and


this is, I think, the point of the reference to Mil-
ton's " Blest pair of Sirens " which follows

THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 73
" Blest pair of Sirens, pledges of Heaven's joy,
Sphere-born harmonious Sisters, Voice and
Verse,
Wed your divine sounds and mixed power
employ. . . ."

Aristotle's Poetics, I. 10, has already been re-


ferred to as probably the passage (or one of the
passages) in Aristotle "known to S.H." (see

Willett Script of Aug. 2, 19 15, Extract D in the

Paper). The following is Butcher's own transla-

tion :
" There are again certain kinds of poetry
which employ all the means above mentioned
namely, rhythm, melody and metre. Such are the
dithyrambic and nomic poetry, and also Tragedy
and Comedy; but between them the difference is that
in the first two cases these means are all employed
at the same time, in the latter separately."

(e) (Extract from King Script of October 3,

1915O

Handel and the berries.

I take this to refer to the famous Air in Handel's


Acis and Galatea: " O ruddier than the cherry, O
sweeter than the berry! " etc., in which Polyphemus
declares his love for Galatea.
74 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
Mrs. King told me that she did not know this

air, nor indeed to the best of her knowledge had


ever heard of it and that Handel's Acts and
Galatea conveyed no idea to her mind.
II.

THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS A DISCUSSION


:

OF THE EVIDENCE.

II.

THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS A DISCUSSION :

OF THE EVIDENCE.

A Paper Read to the Society for Psychical


Research at a Private Meeting on
April 26, 1917.

By Miss F. Melian Stawell.

To my mind the most striking single piece of evi-

dence pointing towards survival that has appeared


lately in our records is that furnished by the cluster

of scripts connected with the " Ear of Dionysius,"


and it is to these that I wish to devote my paper.

I choose them instead of the evidence in " Ray-

mond/' partly because they are more within my


compass, and partly because it seems to me that
the possibility of chance-coincidence is less great
here than in " Raymond." The most remarkable
incident in " Raymond " is that of the photograph,
unknown medium
to the or the sitters, but in which
the general features of the background and the re-
lation of two figures —one leaning on the other
were correctly described. Can we say confidently
77
yS THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
that this coincidence, remarkable as it is, is yet
beyond the reach of chance? I could not myself,
though no doubt answers will vary. For it is

extremely difficult to collect enough evidence about


chance-coincidence. All I can say is that I have

been impressed by the amount of chance-coin-


cidence that has come under my own observation.
For instance, the experiment of artificial scripts

made by the S.P.R. in 191 1 showed, I thought, a


surprising amount of cross-correspondence, entirely

due to chance. You may remember that six per-

sons, none of whom possessed any supernormal


powers, were asked, each on six several occasions,
to open at random some book of English literature,

choose a passage, and write down the thoughts


suggested. In comparing the thirty-six writings, at
least one distinct cross-correspondence, that on
" Moonlight," was to be observed. I myself, who
happened to be one of the experimenters, found to
my astonishment that the casual script of another
possessed for me personally the greatest signifi-

cance. In fact so astonished was I that I thought


some telepathic agency must be at work. The
phrases in this script, which to an ordinary reader
had no obvious connection, could all be interpreted,
and very easily, as connected with a friend of mine
who had lately died. " Moonlight " also had a
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 79
special significance for me in the same connection.
Miss Johnson then pointed out that to test the mat-
ter we should ask the writer, another lady, if she
could remember how the phrases came into her
mind, and that we should also make experiments
to see if there was, in fact, the possibility of
telepathy between us. What was the result? No
thought-transference took place in our experiments,
and the writer had a complete and satisfactory
explanation of how the phrases, so significant to
me, had come into her own script, carrying for her
quite other associations than they did for myself.

Again, I have noticed for the last few years an


absurd frequency with which either the number 11
or a multiple of it is associated with some date,

place, or topic, in which I am interested, so much


so that it would be easy to make out a case for a
mysterious connection between myself and the
number 11.

I mention this topic of chance, partly to urge the


need for further investigation and partly because
of its bearing on the " Ear of Dionysius." It is

obvious, I think, that all the statements in the


scripts we have to consider cannot be due to chance,
though some of them may be.

Mr. Balfour has stated and analysed the incident


in a masterly fashion. His argument that the com-
80 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
municator was really Dr. Verrall's cliscarnate mind
is certainly extremely cogent. But I do not feel

it entirely convincing. There is a difficulty, and,

apart from this, another hypothesis is possible. Of


course, if there were no general reason to doubt
survival after death, there would be less reason to
trouble about another hypothesis. But there is

plenty of reason for doubt, because of all the nega-

tive evidence that exists, some of it collected by the


S.P.R. itself, e.g. the failure of test-questions, or
the inability, shown on more than one occasion, to

state the contents of a sealed envelope written be-

fore the communicator's death.


The positive evidence, however, furnished by the
" Ear of Dionysius " seems, as I said, very con-
siderable, and may be summarised thus, though the
summary cannot do justice to its intricacy and
fullness. In two scripts of Mrs. Willett's, herself
no classical scholar, there appeared a number of
classical allusions, some of them recondite, and all
"
said to be connected with the " Ear of Dionysius
(a whispering-gallery constructed by the tyrant
and opening on the stone-quarries of Syracuse
which were used as a prison). Further, the allu-
sions were given in such a way that their connec-

tion was a regular puzzle, even to trained scholars,

e.g. the " One Ear " (of Dionysius) was, the script
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 81

indicated, to be connected with the " One Eye,"


evidently the one eye of the Cyclops Polyphemus.

But how? At last, in a later sitting, the clue was


suddenly revealed by the half-word " Philox," indi-
cating the name of Philoxenus, a Greek poet,
closely associated with Dionysius, whom he satirised
as Polyphemus. The story of Philoxenus, accord-
ing to one version, a somewhat peculiar one, made
all the allusions and connections perfectly clear.

The communicator purported to be Dr. Verrall,


aided by his friend Prof. Butcher, and the style
in which the references were given strongly resem-
bled his. Finally, after all the scripts were written,
it was discovered that the story of Philoxenus
in the appropriate version happened to be told
with some detail in a book, Smyth's Greek Melic
Poets, that Dr. Verrall used and had in his

library.

I said there was a difficulty in the hypothesis that

Dr. Verrall was communicating. It is this. In


the two leading scripts (Feb. 28, Mar. 2, 19 14,
Stripts B and C) the communicator said that Mrs.
Verrall was to hear nothing of the matter, and that
there was much more to be got through. Yet,
abruptly, immediately after this, all communica-
tion on the topic ceased, so far as Mrs. Willett was
concerned, for a whole year and a half, until sud-
82 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
denly, at a sitting where Mrs. Verrall herself was
present, the subject was re-opened, the clue given,
and great surprise expressed that Mrs. Verrall had
received no message on the matter. This implies
a very strange lapse of memory on the part of the

communicator, so strange that one is forced to ask,


Can it be explained satisfactorily on the hypothesis
that there really was a deliberate conscious person-

ality controlling the communications? I find it

hard to think so.

And another hypothesis is at least plausible. We


may, I think, rule out pretty confidently the sug-

gestion that Mrs. Willett herself had ever known


the whole story of Philoxenus and all the refer-

ences involved. For we are told that she is not a

classical scholar, and a non-classical reader could

hardly have acquired the knowledge necessary with-


out deliberately hunting through classical books for
the purpose. If Mrs. Willett had done this, she
could scarcely have forgotten it. But if she did not
forget it, she must have acted in bad faith. And
not only is her good faith vouched for by our in-
vestigators, but no one acting in bad faith would
have left the communications with the inconsequent
ending I have described. The messages could so
easily have been neatly rounded off long before the
sitting with Mrs. Verrall, and so gained greatly in
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 83

impressiveness. But it by no means follows that


Mrs. Willett, acting in perfect good faith, did not
have a fair amount of relevant knowledge latent

in her mind which would help to build up the script.

It is plain that Mrs. Willett's conscious mind does


forget very easily. When asked by Mr. Balfour
(May 27, 1916) what she knew about the "Ear
of Dionysius," she said she had heard the expres-
sion, but did not know the meaning of it. Yet only
two years before she had written, in her normal
consciousness, script containing a fairly full ac-

count of the " Ear," a script of which she had kept


an annotated copy to which, as Mr. Balfour tells

us, she could refer at any time (p. 205). I feel,

therefore, considerable hesitation in thinking that

she had really never known that Prof. Butcher had


written on Aristotle's Poetics. For she was inter-

ested in Prof. Butcher, and she was a friend of


Mrs. Verrall. She must have had many opportuni-
ties of seeing or hearing some reference to his most
important work. Nor can I feel sure that an
educated woman " with a taste for poetry " had

never come across the story of Ulysses and the


Cyclops Polyphemus; though I can readily believe
that she had forgotten the name Polyphemus and
the fact of Prof. Butcher's connection with the
Poetics, the knowledge remaining dormant even in
84 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
her sub-conscious mind until stimulated by some
outside influence.
That influence, I suggest, was the sub-conscious
mind of Mrs. Verrall. It does seem to me that Mr.
Balfour dismisses this possibility far too lightly. In
the first place, I think it not only possible, but
probable, that Mrs. Verrall had at the bottom of
her mind all the classical references required. It is

true she thought she knew nothing about Philoxenus


and never had known. But so did I, when I

heard Mr. Balfour's paper, and yet I must have


known something, and very likely all, that was
needed. I have read the Poetics, the Politics, and
Grote's History, and they all refer to Philoxenus.

I think it highly probable that I had read the article


in Lempriere's Classical Dictionary that gives the

very version of his quarrel with Dionysius men-


tioned in the notes to the Greek Melic Poets, and
followed in the script. I cannot be sure but this
is my reason. There are a very considerable num-
ber of allusions to Philoxenus, conjectural or cer-
tain, scattered up and down Greek literature —how
many the non-classical reader may judge by con-
sulting Smith's Dictionary of Classical Biography.

Three of these occur in Aristophanes' Frogs,


Clouds, and Plutus {Frogs, 1506; Clouds, 332;
Plutus, 290). I have read all three plays with
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 85

some care, and it is the usual practice of a student

in such cases to look up the names of classical


authors referred to in the text, or the notes, if

1
otherwise unfamiliar.
Now I cannot doubt that Mrs. Verrall had read
at least as much as I and studied as carefully.

Further, before the evidential scripts occurred,


there was a good deal to attract her attention to

the whole topic of Dionysius and his prisoners,


Philoxenus included. On Aug. 26, 19 10, before
Dr. Verrall's death, Mrs. Willett, when sitting for

script with her, dictated the phrase " Dionysius'

Ear —the lobe." Mrs. Verrall did not understand


the phrase and talked it over with her husband,
who twitted her with her ignorance or forgetful-

ness. Now, is it not natural to suppose that, after


this, she looked up the subject or got Dr. Verrall
to tell her all he could about it? Surely any clas-
sical student would have done so much. And then,

either in her own reading or in the course of con-


versation, she might easily have come upon the
story of Philoxenus, closely connected as he is with
Dionysius.

1 Since writing the above I see that in Rogers' edition of


the Plutus (published 1904) the relevant version of the
Philoxenus story is given with considerable detail in the
notes,ad versum 290. It would be interesting to know if
Mrs. Verrall had seen this excellent edition.

86 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS


Moreover, the whole story, as we have said
including one express reference to Aristotle and to
music, Mousike —a word expressly dictated Mrs. in

Willett' s script — compactly given a page of


is in

Prof. Smyth's Greek Melic Poets. Dr. Verrall had


a presentation copy of this work and thought well of
it. It is certainly not far-fetched to suppose that
Mrs. Verrall at some time or other had at least

glanced through the pages. The book is full of in-


teresting bits of information very useful for a classi-
1
cal teacher. If Mrs. Verrall had once read p. 461
of this handy little volume she would, with the rest

of her normal classical knowledge, have been, at one


time or other, in possession of all the facts neces-
sary to build up the scheme of associated ideas that
seemed so complicated to an outsider.
This " odd old human story of long ago," as the

Willett script calls the tale of Philoxenus, is just

the kind to catch an imaginative student's imagina-

1 It contains,
by the way, a special reference to the Sicilian
worship of Artemis and her connection with Arethusa and
the Alpheus (p. 301). "Sicilian Artemis," it may be remem-
bered, appears in the Willett script for no apparent reason.
I have since been told by my friend, Miss Matthaei of

Newnham College, that Smyth's book is the standard edi-


tion of the Greek lyric poets now in use at Cambridge, and
that almost every classical student at Newnham has a copy
on her shelves, no other edition having such helpful notes.
Miss Matthaei said she could scarcely imagine that Mrs.
Verrall had not read the book.
"

THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 87

tion. Indeed it is doubtless just the kind to have

interested and amused Dr. Verrall himself, but


then, if so, he would have been likely to mention
it to other scholars, especially to his wife. It may
be said in objection that it would be very strange
for Mrs. Verrall to have known this story and then
forgotten it so completely. But I cannot agree. I

forget too much myself. And it is surely at least

equally strange that the " Ear of Dionysius


should have conveyed nothing to her either. That
is much better known, and must, I should think,
often have been matter of her conscious knowl-
edge.

I can see no real difficulty, therefore, in assuming


that the knowledge required may have been latent

in Mrs. Verrall's mind and that her subconscious


self could weave the associations together, much as
1
it might in a fairly coherent dream. On this

hypothesis I should proceed to explain what hap-


pened somewhat as follows. Rapport between Mrs.
Willett and Mrs. Verrall on the subject of the " Ear
of Dionysius " had already been established before
Dr. Verrall's death. Afterwards, Jan. 10, 1914,
there appeared a fairly long piece of Willett script

1 1 note that this comparison to the modus


operandi of
our minds when dreaming has been made independently by
Miss May Sinclair in an acute letter printed in the S.P.R.
Journal (May-June, 1917).
88 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
(script A) written in normal consciousness and
sending messages to Mrs. Verrall about the Ear
of Dionysius, the stone quarries, Sicily, and poetry.
All the allusions, as Mr. Balfour himself points

out, " might be supposed ... to have been at


one time or other within the normal knowledge of
the automatist." But further, all the allusions are

of such a kind that they would, if seen by Mrs.


Verrall — and they were both seen and studied by
her (Jan. 19, 1914) — stimulate any latent memories
she might have about Dionysius and Philoxenus. I

assume that they did in fact so stimulate them, just

enough to make them active, but subconsciously,


not consciously.

Owing to this activity, about five weeks later


Feb. 28, Mar. 2, 19 14), when Mrs. Willett sits

for script with Mr. Balfour (Scripts B and C) the

topics in question leak through in an obscure and


fragmentary fashion, from Mrs. Verrall's mind into
Mrs. Willett's. Here they find congenial soil, for

Mrs. Willett herself had already been thinking


about the Ear of Dionysius, Sicily, poetry, Dr.
Verrall, Prof. Butcher, and their joint interest in

classical literature, (script A, Jan. 10, 19 14, and


compare her vision of Prof. Butcher and his

classical message to Verrall, Jan. 21, 191 1).


Unconscious leakage from mind to mind is not
"

THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 89

a new hypothesis. We have good evidence for it

{e.g. the leakage of the idea " seven " from Mr.
Piddington's sealed letter: the leakage of the pas-
sage about " moly " in the " one-horse-dawn

experiment).
But, it may be said, the Willett scripts show an
elaborate design in the way the facts are communi-
cated. Can we suppose this design was not due to

conscious agency? I answer by another question:


Is the elaborate design of a kind that forces us to
assume purpose? There is certainly what might
fairly be called an elaborate association of ideas,
and this is reflected in the scripts, but I have
shown, I think, that this association might have
been in Mrs. Verrall's subconscious mind. Of
design in communication the evidence is much less

clear. Much is made of the fact that the allusions


are given in a scholar-like form, that they are
veiled and fragmentary, and that the clue seems
purposely withheld. But the scholar-like form
would be natural to Mrs. Verrall, and we know that
telepathic messages do often come through in a
veiled and fragmentary form. They did when Dr.
Verrall made his famous " one-horse dawn " ex-
periment, and yet the veiling was no part of his

plan. And if the clue was purposely withheld, why


was it given in the end to the very person, Mrs.
go THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
Verrall, from whom it ought to have been kept till

all was complete?


I suggest therefore that the effect of purposive
design is accidental, due to the chance that Mrs.
Verrall's subconscious mind, owing to her sight
of Willett script A, was working in Jan.-Mar., 19 14,

on the Dionysius-Philoxenus cycle of ideas and


that Mrs. Willett' s mind could at first receive frag-

ments of them, but only fragments, as her own


insistence on her difficulty in catching the ideas
indicates. I suggest also that she wove round them
fancies of her own, e.g. that Mrs. Verrall was not
to be told, and that there was an important experi-
ment on foot, etc. Then Mrs. Verrall's mind, I

assume, drifted away from the subject, and noth-


ing further appears for a long while in the Willett
scripts. But when Mrs. Verrall sits for script with

Mrs. Willett, a year and a half later, the contact

of the two minds happens to revive subconsciously


the dormant memories of the Dionysius-Philoxenus
story and this time it emerges in a form that is prac-

tically complete, just as we often do find that


telepathic impressions are much more clearly re-
ceived when the communicator is in the room. (It

would be of great interest, by the way, to know if

this was the first time that Mrs. Verrall sat for
script with Mrs. Willett since the writing of the
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 91

evidential scripts B and C.) Once more, I suggest


that Mrs. Willett's subconscious mind wove fancies

of its own, but this time fancies that do not tally


with the earlier ones, e.g. they now assume that

Mrs. Verrall ought to have been told. Thus we


have, I submit, a hypothesis with certain merits of
its own to put against the hypothesis of Dr. Verrall

communicating. I do not claim it as more plausible.

Apart from the fact that there are other reasons

to doubt survival I do not think it as plausible.


Both hypotheses have weak points one involves an :

astonishing lapse of memory on Dr. Verrall's part,

the other a remarkable extension of unconscious


leakage.

And what I want to urge now is the imperative


need both for further observation and further ex-
periment to help us to decide. I admit that I can-
not conceive any one experiment as decisive. The
evidence, from the nature of the case, cannot, so

far as I can see, ever be demonstrative : it can only


be cumulative. We have no demonstrative evidence
even of the existence of individual incarnate minds
other than our own. But that is all the more reason
for making as many experiments as possible. And
with some hesitation, for I have no claim whatever
to speak as an investigator, I would ask first if

more test-questions and more exploratory ques-


92 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
tions could not be put to the automatists. For
instance, has any attempt been made to find out

from the automatist in trance any explanation of


that strange lapse of memory? If so, with what
result? Test-questions were put, I believe, through
Mrs. Piper to the supposed communicator Myers.
Could not similar questions be put through Mrs.
Willett to Verrall? If they have been put, what
has been the result? And further, I would urge
that every possible opportunity should be taken to

repeat the experiment of sealed letters. It is true,

of course, as Mrs. Sidgwick says, that these expert


ments are not crucial. My own paper indicates that

the contents might leak from one mind to the other

while the writer was still alive. But if a large


number were written, if, in a large proportion of
cases, the contents were not disclosed till after

death and then were disclosed, should we not all

feel, in spite of loopholes for doubt, that the posi-


tive evidence had gained enormously? Failure in
the experiment would, of course, add a certain
amount of weight to the negative side. But that
seems to me exactly the reason for making it. If

the evidence must be cumulative, and it seems to


me that it must, we cannot test its weight unless we
take full account of negative as well as positive
results.
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 93
Note. Reading Mr. Balfour's most courteous
and interesting answer to my paper, I notice that,

— entirely through my own looseness of phrasing,

— I may have given the impression that I doubt


survival after death. On the contrary, I believe
in survival ; what I doubt is the possibility of direct
purposeful communication with minds still incar-

nate. I ought to have made this clear and I wish


to do so now, since all these matters are important,

although this special point does not affect the actual


discussion between Mr. Balfour and myself.
III.

THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS: A REPLY.


III.

THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS A REPLY. :

By the Right Hon. Gerald W. Balfour.

By the courtesy of the Editor of the Proceedings I

have been allowed to see the foregoing paper by


Miss Stawell in manuscript, and invited to comment
upon it. I accept the invitation all the more readily

inasmuch as I was unfortunately prevented by ill-

ness from being present at the meeting at which the


paper was read.
Miss Sta well's criticism of the argument for sur-
vival put forward in " The Ear of Dionysius " is

of that serious and thoughtful kind that helps to


throw light upon a problem even where one cannot
agree with it. The alternative hypothesis which
she suggests is not one that commends itself to my
judgement. But it touches upon points of real
interest, and the care and acumen with which she
has handled the subject deserve respectful consid-
eration.

The point of view from which Miss Stawell


starts is not quite the same as that which I took
97
98 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
up in my paper. Let me quote her own words:
" [Mr. Balfour's] argument that the communicator

was really Dr. Verrall's discarnate mind is certainly


extremely cogent. But I do not feel it entirely con-

vincing. There is a difficulty, and, apart from this,

another hypothesis is possible. Of course, if there

were no general reason to doubt survival after


death, there would be less reason to trouble
about another hypothesis. But there is plenty of
reason for doubt, because of all the negative evi-
dence that exists, some of it collected by the S.P.R.
itself, e.g. the failure of test-questions, or the
inability, shown on more than one occasion, to state

the contents of a sealed envelope written before the


,,
communicator's death.
Again, after giving her own alternative explana-

tion, Miss Stawell sums up the case as follows:


" We have, I submit, a hypothesis with certain
merits of its own to put against the hypothesis of

Dr. Verrall communicating. I do not claim it as


more plausible. Apart from the fact that there are

other reasons to doubt survival I do not think it as


plausible. Both hypotheses have weak points: one
involves an astonishing lapse of memory on Dr.
Verrall's part, the other a remarkable extension of

unconscious leakage."
It is evident from these passages that Miss
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 99
Stawell avowedly starts from the assumption that
survival is antecedently improbable on general
grounds, that is to say, on grounds independent of
any considerations that are to be drawn from the
facts of the particular case under review. Were it

not for these external grounds of objection she


would prefer my explanation to her own.
No doubt the attitude of any of us towards this
or that suggested explanation of a particular case
must inevitably depend on the presuppositions or
predispositions which we bring to the study of it.

Those who disbelieve in the possibility of survival

will prefer any explanation to one that rests on


survival. Those who disbelieve in the possibility

of telepathy —and they are still probably the ma-


jority among scientific men — will be equally em-
phatic in also rejecting the explanation offered by

Miss Stawell. On the other hand, those who on


general grounds have already come to regard sur-

vival as probable will be prepossessed in favour of

spirit communication as against elaborate and com-


plicated hypotheses of subliminal agency.

In these circumstances it seems to me that in a

paper professing to deal with only a single case of


what purports to be spirit communication, the
proper course is to start from the assumption that
survival and spirit communication are open ques-
ioo THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
tions; and this is what I tried to do. Once we begin
to weight the scales, as Miss Stawell has done, with
considerations of a general character, it is difficult

to see how there can be any logical halting place


short of a discussion extending beyond the par-

ticular case to all the pros and cons by which our


final conclusions will be determined. At that rate

a paper would quickly swell to a volume.


An obvious corollary from what has just been
said is that no single case should be treated as

crucial and decisive. Here I am entirely at one


with Miss Stawell, and I may add with all serious
students of the subject. The evidence must be
cumulative. In the end, the hypothesis which offers
the simplest explanation of all the observed facts
bearing on the question at issue will doubtless be-
come generally accepted. But we are far from
having reached that end as yet. I do not claim for
the " Dionysius Case " more than that it is an im-
portant contribution to the evidence, and that it tells

strongly in favour of survival and of the actuality


of communication from " the other side." Miss
Stawell herself, it appears, is inclined towards a

similar view, though much more doubtingly and


waveringly.
This brings me to the main substance of her
paper. Miss Stawell finds in the facts of the case
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 101

as narrated a difficulty which militates against the


supposition that the communications really proceed
from Dr. Verrall. Further, she offers an alterna-
tive explanation which, even if less plausible on the
whole, and considered by itself, than that which I
have advocated, is nevertheless regarded by her as
sufficiently plausible to come into serious competi-

tion with it.

Miss Stawell states her "difficulty" thus: "In


the two leading scripts (Feb. 28, Mar. 2, 1914,
Scripts B and C) the communicator said that Mrs.
Verrall was to hear nothing of the matter, and that
there was much more to be got through. Yet,
abruptly, immediately after this, all communication
on the topic ceased, so far as Mrs. Willett was con-
cerned, for a whole year and a half, until suddenly,

at a sitting where Mrs. Verrall herself was present,

the subject was re-opened, the clue given, and great

surprise expressed that Mrs. Verrall had received

no message on the matter. This implies a strange


lapse of memory on the part of the communicator,

so strange that one is forced to ask, Can it be ex-


plained satisfactorily on the hypothesis that there
really was a deliberate conscious personality con-

trolling the communications? I find it hard to


think so."
That the surprise expressed in the later scripts

is inconsistent with the instructions given in the


102 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
earlier ones is clear; and undoubtedly the most
natural account to be given of this inconsistency
is to ascribe it, as I have done in my paper, to a

lapse of memory on the part of the communicators.


Miss Stawell's alternative hypothesis explains the
inconsistency by arbitrarily transferring the respon-
sibility for it to the automatist herself. On this

point let me note that the inconsistency requires to


be not merely explained but explained away, if the
incident is to lose the highly exceptional and per-
haps unprecedented character which I assigned to
it. What is so rare is that scripts written by the
same automatist should contain statements start-

lingly at variance with each other. The question

whether the true origin of the statements is external

or subliminal is from this point of view irrelevant.

It is what may be called in a non-committal phrase


" the script memory " which in our experience is

so seldom found to be seriously at fault.


When I treated the inconsistency in the scripts

as due to forget fulness on the part of the communi-


cators and added that I had no explanation to offer,

I meant that I had no explanation to offer which


seemed to me preferable to the assumption that a
lapse of memory had taken place. But I must can-
didly own that when I wrote my paper I attached
no particular significance to the incident, though I
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 103

noted it as being very unusual. The use made of it

by Miss Stawell was entirely unforeseen by me. I

still think that she has greatly overrated her " dif-

ficulty," and that such a lapse of memory after a


year and a half, during which the subject was
dropped so far as communications through Mrs.
Willett were concerned, is not inconsistent with the
control of the communications by a "deliberate

conscious personality." But for those who attach


more importance to her objection than I do, I ven-

ture to suggest an explanation of this discrepancy

in the scripts which I think well within the bounds


of possibility, though I refrained from offering it

in my paper.

Let us see just how the case stands. Script B


tells us that Mrs. Verrall is to hear nothing of the

matter at present.
Script C says there is much more to follow, and
that until the effort is completed the portions as

they come are not to be seen by any other auto-


matist.

Script D, returning to the subject a year and a


half later, asks if the Satire has been identified, and

finding Mrs. Verrall unable to give a reply, ex-

presses surprise that the messages concerning it and


references to a Cave have not been passed on to
her.
104 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
Finally, in Script E, a fortnight later, Gurney,

upon being informed that all the classical allusions


are now understood by the investigators, exclaims
"Good—At last!"

In the long interval between C and D a complete


change has taken place in the attitude of the com-
municators. Can anything have occurred during
this period to account for the change?
It is certain that the expectation held out in C
of further contributions to the problem was not ful-

filled in any scripts produced by Mrs. Willett be-


tween the dates of C and D. Of these there were
about a dozen altogether. They dealt almost
exclusively with a single subject of a private
nature which had no connection whatever with the
Dionysius case, nor with either of the two prin-
cipal communicators concerned in it. It does not,
however, follow from this that the Dionysius topic
had been wholly lost sight of by the group on the
other side. The statements in B and C do indeed
strongly suggest, if they do not directly assert, that
a return to it would shortly be made in subsequent
Willett scripts. But in C there is also something

very like an intimation that attempts would be


made to produce cross-correspondences on the sub-
ject in the scripts of other automatists. That at
all events is the meaning I attached at the time to
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 105
*

the instruction that " until the effort is completed


the portions as they come are not to be seen by any

other automatist "; so much so that from then


onwards I began to look out very carefully for any
signs of such cross-correspondences.

The suggestion I have to make is this. For some


undisclosed reason the intention to send additional
matter on the Dionysius topic through Mrs. Willett
was not carried out. Possibly Gurney, who appears
to take chief charge of arrangements on the other
side, was unwilling to allow the important series

of scripts, occupied with a totally different subject,


that began shortly after the date of Script C, to be

interrupted. In the meantime attempts were made


to refer to the Dionysius case elsewhere. There
is good ground for believing that these attempts
met with at least a partial measure of success in
the scripts of Mrs. King. (See Appendix to my
original paper, Proc. 'S.P.R., Vol. XXIX., p. 239)
It is quite possible that the communicators may
have thought that they had succeeded in " getting
through " more than they actually had. Uncer-
tainty as to what has and what has not been effec-

tively transmitted and duly recorded by automatists


is frequently admitted in the scripts, and perhaps
rather specially so in Mrs. King's script. As time
passed the group on the other side may have
io6 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
thought that sufficient lights had been given, and
have assumed that the investigators had discovered
the solution of the puzzle. Had we really discov-

ered it the instructions that Mrs. Verrall " is to

hear nothing of this at present" and that "until


the effort is completed the portions as they come
are not to be seen by any other automatist " would
have ceased to be applicable; and Mrs. Verrall
would have been taken into our counsel and been
shown the scripts.

If this is really what happened, the surprise ex-

pressed in D becomes intelligible. It is inconsistent

with the instructions given in B and C, but would


not be inconsistent with the impressions subse-

quently formed by the communicators during the


long interval that followed. The exclamation "At
last! " used by Gurney on hearing that the classical

allusions were now all understood, would also be


not only intelligible but natural, if he took the view
that the information supplied to us before Script D
was produced had been sufficient, or ought to have
been sufficient, to give us the solution of the

problem.
I offer this explanation for what it may be worth.
There is too much of the conjectural element in it

to satisfy me. But in any case I should prefer it

to the explanation given by Miss Stawell's alterna-


;

THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 107

tive hypothesis, in which conjecture seems to me


to play at least as prominent a part.

To that alternative hypothesis I now turn. It

may be summed in three main propositions:


(1) That Mrs. Verrall possessed, consciously or
subconsciously, all the classical knowledge implied

in the scripts.

(2) That after receiving the message in Script A


she subconsciously wove together a number of
topics, not for the most part connected with one
another by any obvious associations, into a coherent
whole, the separate items of which, by reason of
this subconscious activity, " leaked " from her sub-
conscious mind into that of Mrs. Willett and
emerged in the successive scripts, Mrs. Willett's
own latent memories co-operating in the process.

(3) That the collocation of the ideas thus


brought together may be said to exhibit " design "
but that of " purpose in communication " as dis-
tinguished from " design " the scripts furnish no
sufficient evidence.

This account of the matter is ingenious and care-


fully thought out; but I am unable to accept it as
probable.

As regards (1), everything turns upon whether


Mrs. Verrall had at some period before the produc-
tion of the evidential scripts (B, C and D) become
io8 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
acquainted with the story of Philoxenus, and more
especially with the version of that story implied
in the scripts. If she had not, cadit quaestio: the

alternative hypothesis falls to the ground.

Miss Stawell thinks I have dismissed too easily


the possibility that the scripts had their source of
inspiration in Mrs. Verrall's subconscious mind. I

admit that when stating that Mrs. Verrall " knew


nothing about Philoxenus or his poem," I took it

too much for granted that she never had known


anything. Present ignorance, however complete,
cannot wholly exclude the possibility of knowledge
once possessed but since forgotten. But there are
cases —and this, I think, is one of them —where it

may go far towards doing so; especially where


there is really nothing to be set on the other side

except pure conjecture. I can readily believe that


at some time or other in the course of her classical

studies Mrs. Verrall had come across a mention of


the poet Philoxenus and afterwards forgotten about
him. But we have to suppose far more than that

in order to account for the distinctly recondite

knowledge concerning the plot of the Cyclops ex-


hibited in the scripts. Miss Stawell' s own sugges-
tion is that Mrs. Verrall was led to look up the
associations connected with the Ear of Dionysius
by her conversation on the subject with Dr. Verrall
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 109

in 191 o, and in this manner acquired the necessary


information. Conjectures of this kind are plausible
enough in themselves. But they are not easy to

reconcile with the fact that in January, 19 14, the

message which (according to Miss Stawell) pro-


duced such very remarkable results in Mrs. Ver-
rall's subconscious mind, found no appropriate
response in her normal memories; and that in

August, 191 5, even a study of the reference books


on the subject failed to recall to her that she had
ever heard of Philoxenus. Again, Miss Stawell
thinks it " not far-fetched to suppose that Mrs.
Verrall at some time or other had at least glanced

through the pages "of Professor Smyth's Greek


Melic Poets. Perhaps not; but what evidence we
have is in the other direction. My strong impres-
sion is —though I cannot absolutely vouch for the
fact —that Mrs. Verrall told me she believed she
had never looked into the book until she had re-

course to it in connection with the references in


Script D; and Mrs. Salter (Miss Helen Verrall)
informs me that she is sure her mother never had
any previous occasion to use it. Unfortunately
Mrs. Verrall is no longer with us to appeal to on
points like this. As things are, it is perhaps hardly
possible to carry the controversy further. I can
only say that my personal opinion remains un-
no THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
shaken. Mrs. Verrall herself was convinced that
the Philoxenus story which contains the key to the

puzzle was entirely new to her. I continue to be-


1
lieve that she was right.

(2) Coming next to Miss Stawell's account of


the genesis of the scripts, let me begin by noting a
point of detail. The order of events is supposed to
be as follows : Mrs. Verrall (who is credited, as we
have seen, with a complete, though latent knowl-
edge of all the classical references in the scripts)

receives the message contained in Script A. Her


latent memories are thereby stimulated " just

enough to make them active, but subconsciously not


consciously." This subconscious activity in its turn
produces a " leakage " of ideas from Mrs. Verrall

1
Miss Stawell credits not only Mrs. Verrall, but also Mrs.
Willett, with a more extensive subconscious knowledge than
I should be prepared to allow probable. The more or less
of Mrs. Willett's knowledge is in no way essential to Miss
Stawell's main contention, and therefore I have not thought
it worth while to discuss it. I must, however, take excep-
tion to the argument by which she supports her opinion.
''
It is plain," she writes, "that Mrs. Willett's conscious mind
does forget very easily. When asked by Mr. Balfour (27
May, 1916) what she knew about the 'Ear of Dionysius,'
she said she had heard the expression but did not know the
meaning of it. Yet only two years before she had written.
in her normal consciousness, script containing a fairly full
account of the Ear, a script of which she had kept an
annotated copy to which, as Mr. Balfour tells us, she could
refer at any time." Surely there is a fallacy here. It is true
that Script A contains a description of the Ear of Dionysius.
But it does not describe it by name. Unless Mrs. Willett
already knew that the description applied to the Ear of
Dionysius, she might have read and re-read Script A without
ever discovering the fact.
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS in
to Mrs. Willett, and is thus the true source and
origin of the " evidential scripts."

What remains unexplained in this account is the


origin of the message in Script A. Miss Stawell,
of course, assumes that all the topics in this mes-

sage had at one time or another been within Mrs.


Willett's normal knowledge, and might, therefore,
have emerged in her script without any external
prompting. But even granting this, why did they
emerge at all? On Miss Stawell's hypothesis no
answer to this question is forthcoming. On the
hypothesis that Dr. Verrall was the real as well as

the ostensible communicator, the answer is plain.

Evidently the message was sent in preparation for


what was to follow.
This, however, is, after all, a point of minor
importance, though not, I think, without some
interest.

A much more serious objection to Miss Stawell's

account of how the scripts originated is one of which


she is sensible herself, though I doubt whether she
has realised the full force of it. The essential basis

of her explanation is " unconscious leakage " of

ideas from mind to mind. Miss Stawell has not


told us exactly what she means by " unconscious
leakage." The term may signify much or little.

If A represents the mind from which, and B the


ii2 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
mind to which the leakage is assumed to take place,

are both A and B to be regarded as unconscious

of what is happening, or only A? And further,

when we speak of A, do we mean supraliminal A


only, or subliminal A also, and similarly of B? I
am not quite sure, but I think Miss Stawell uses
the term in its widest significance, which excludes
any kind of awareness or intention either on the
one side or the other, and either supraliminal or
subliminal. In other words the whole process is

to be taken as involuntary and automatic. It is in

this sense that the term is to be understood in the


discussion which follows.

Miss Stawell tells us that unconscious leakage is

not a new hypothesis, and that we have good evi-


dence of it. Certainly it is not a new hypothesis;
on the other hand, the actual evidence in support

of it is singularly scanty. The reason of this may


be, at least in part, that such evidence is, from the
nature of the case, difficult to obtain. But it may
also be owing to the rarity of the phenomenon
itself.

Two supposed examples are cited by Miss Stawell


—the case of Mr. Piddington's sealed letter, and
the leakage of the passage about " moly " in the

" one-horse dawn " experiment. Neither of these

can be regarded as conclusive, even if we ignore


THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 113

the possibility of chance-coincidence. The incident

of Mr. Piddington's letter forms part of a compli-

cated cross-correspondence. Miss Johnson, to

whom we owe a careful review of all the circum-

stances (see Proc. S.P.R., Vol. XXIV., pp. 222 ff.),

finds in them strong evidence of a single external

directing intelligence; and though she thinks that


this intelligence may have utilised telepathic com-
munication between the automatists concerned and
Mr. Piddington, it is obvious that the introduction
on the stage of such a deus ex machina, while not
negativing the hypothesis of unconscious leakage,
does render it superfluous.

As to the passage about " the herb moly " in

the "one-horse dawn" experiment, it is true that

the appearance of it in Mrs. Verrall's script could

not be directly due to any conscious mental activity


on Dr. Verrall's part. But we know that he was
trying to transmit certain words to Mrs. Verrall,
and we cannot be sure that this conscious effort

on his part was not a conditio sine qua non of the


transmission of certain other words of the connec-
tion of which with the subject of the experiment
he was only subconsciously aware. For a fuller dis-

cussion of this question, perhaps I may refer to an

article of mine published in Proc, Vol. XXV., in

which I pointed out that no proof of purely sub-


H4 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
conscious telepathy can ever be obtained from
experiments. All experiments necessarily star:

from supraliminal activity; and having once started

from supraliminal activity it is impossible to be cer-


tain that one is justified in eliminating it from
results.

If proof is to be obtained of unconscious leakage

it is among cases of spontaneous {i.e. non-experi-


mental) telepathy that we must look for it.

Veridical phantasms of the living that have ap-


peared to persons unknown to the presumed agent,
collective hallucinations, and the psychological
characteristics of crowds, will perhaps be found to
afford the best examples — in other words, cases

where nothing more complex is in question than


sensory impressions or emotional states.

Whether even single mental concepts are ever


transmitted by unconscious leakage is doubtful.

What we have in the Dionysius case is a series of

mental concepts, apparently unconnected, or only


loosely connected, but ultimately found to be cun-

ningly linked together by a central idea that unites


all the rest into a single whole. The transmission

of a combined scheme of concepts in the way sug-

gested has, I feel confident, no sort of warrant from


experience. Miss Stawell may well call such an

extension of unconscious leakage " remarkable."


THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 115

Can we say that the hypothesis, even though


unwarranted by experience, is nevertheless intrin-

sically plausible? I do not think so. Unconscious


leakage must from the nature of the case be in
large measure at the mercy of chance. It would
be unreasonable to expect from it the unity and

coherence that might be looked for in a message


deliberately sent by an intelligent communicator.
Yet it is just such unity and coherence which are
exceptionally manifest in these Willett scripts.

What we see in them is not chance but design.


Moreover, they show a noticeable absence of any-
thing like surplusage or extraneous matter. There
is hardly an idea to be found in them that does not
contribute to the building up of the scheme as a
whole. Even granting for a moment that the de-
sign itself originated in Mrs. Verrall's subconscious

mind, how can mere leakage account for the fact


that practically no ideas emerged in the scripts

except such as were relevant to the design? It

seems to me that this is a real difficulty, and that


neither the rapport which may fairly be taken to
have existed between Mrs. Verrall and Mrs. Willett,
nor any aid which the dormant memories of the
latter may be supposed to have rendered, suffice to
meet it. Indeed I see no way of meeting it fully

except to suppose that Mrs. Verrall's subconscious


n6 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
mind was at the time occupied with these ideas and
with no others. If the leakage occurred contem-

poraneously with the emergence of the ideas in the


scripts of Feb. 28 and March 2 (Scripts B and C),
the coincidence must be ascribed to a happy acci-
dent. If it extended over a period antecedent to
the emergence, are we to suppose that Mrs. Ver-
rall's subliminal concentration on the Ear of
Dionysius extended over the whole of the period?
This is possible, but is it also plausible?

Other difficulties suggest themselves which I can


only briefly indicate. Mrs. Willett's automatic
productions are incomparably more striking than
Mrs. Verrall's, and the Dionysius Case is among
the most striking of all. Yet we are asked to sup-

pose that the true source both of materials and of


plan in this case was Mrs. Verrall's subconscious
mind, whence they leaked into that of Mrs. Willett.
If so, how comes it that nothing remotely similar

to these scripts appeared in Mrs. Verrall's own


automatic writings? And again, if the influence of

Mrs. Verrall's subliminal mind on Mrs. Willett's


scripts is so powerful as the hypothesis implies, how
comes it that that influence has not left a more con-

spicuous impress on the Willett scripts generally?


Perhaps the Statius case may be cited in reply to
this question. I agree that the Statius Case and the
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 117

Dionysius Case must stand or fall together, and that

to explain the one is almost certainly to explain


the other also. But they form only a small fraction
of the total volume of Willett scripts. It is true

that cross-correspondences occur from time to

time between Mrs. Verrall's scripts and Mrs. Wil-


lett's, and may, from Miss Stawell's standpoint, be
held to indicate telepathic leakage from one writer
to the other. None of these cross-correspondences,
however, are at all on the scale of leakage required

to explain the Dionysius Case; nor do they, so far


as I can judge, markedly surpass either in number
or quality the cross-correspondences to be found
between Mrs. Willett's scripts and those of other
members of our group of automatists.

Considerations like this cannot, of course, be


properly appreciated without a full knowledge of
all the scripts. I will not dwell on them further,
but will pass on to the last of the three proposi-
tions which summarise Miss Stawell's alternative
hypothesis.

Miss Stawell draws a sharp distinction between


" design " and " purpose in communication/' " De-

sign/' in the sense of " an elaborate association of


ideas," she admits and ascribes to Mrs. Verrall's
subconscious mind. " Purpose in communication "

she disputes, and the appearance of it she


n8 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
ascribes to the subconscious mind of the autom-

atist.

The distinction between design and purpose, and


the separation of roles between Mrs. Verrall and

Mrs. Willett, were inevitably forced on Miss


Stawell by the premises from which she starts.

She rejects — I believe quite rightly —the supposi-


tion that Mrs. Willett had ever known the story of
Philoxenus. It follows that Mrs. Willett could not
have originated the " design." The hypothesis of
spirit communication being excluded, responsibility
for the design is fixed upon Mrs. Verrall. But
Miss Stawell insists that the associated ideas passed
from Mrs. Verrall to Mrs. Willett by " unconscious

leakage." Now, unconscious leakage is clearly

incompatible with " purpose in communication."


In fact it is the very opposite of it. Hence any
appearance of purpose must either be explained
away as illusory, or it is upon Mrs. Willett that

the responsibility for it must be thrown.


To my mind this treatment of the matter is

forced and unnatural. I look upon the " elaborate


association of ideas " (or, as I should prefer to

describe it, the skilful construction of a problem) as

forming part and parcel of the manifestation of


purpose in the scripts, and as practically inseparable
from it. Miss Stawell herself seems tacitly to
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 119

admit the closeness of the relation between the two.


For she allows that " the way in which the facts

are communicated " might be evidence of purpose.


In particular she mentions the withholding of the
clue all through Scripts B and C, and its final

revelation in D. Is not this the very attitude of


one who propounds a riddle, and deliberately waits
before producing the answer to it? And, on the
other hand, if the materials of the problem found

their way into the scripts through the operation of


unconscious leakage, should we not expect the cen-
tral and dominating idea of the combination to leak
out early instead of late in the history of the case?
Miss Stawell, however, has her counter-question
ready. " If," she asks, " the clue was purposely
withheld, why was it given in the end to the very
person, Mrs. Verrall, from whom it ought to have
"
been kept till all was complete ?
The argument in support of purposiveness is not

really met by raising a difficulty on the other side,

even if that difficulty was a formidable one. But


is it so formidable? Surely there may have been
good reasons in February and March, 1914, for
asking that the scripts should be kept from Mrs.
Verrall " for the present," and yet those reasons
might have lost their weight a year and a half later.

My own view is that the communicators had for-


120 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
gotten that the injunction had ever been laid. But
whether they had forgotten this or not, they may
well have thought that, the investigators having

failed to solve the problem, the time had now come


to bring matters to a conclusion by supplying the

key to the enigma themselves. The analogy of the


Statius Case deserves to be considered in this con-
1
nection.

Evidence of purpose is, however, by no means


confined to that indirectly furnished by the con-
struction of the problem and the manner of its

presentment, but is to be found scattered in plenty


throughout the scripts.

The communicators tell us they are trying " an


experiment;" it is "something good and worth
doing," which takes the form of " a literary asso-
cition of ideas pointing to the influence of two
discarnate minds." The " Aristotelian " and the

"Rationalist" (S.H.B. and A.W.V) are described


as being engaged in "a particular task," an
" effort " which still awaits completion. " The in-

cident," we are informed, " was chosen as being


evidential of identity; " and it is claimed that the
combination is characteristic of its authors — that it

is " A.W.ish " and " S.H.ish."


Statements like these plainly imply purpose.

How does Miss Stawell deal with them? By the


1 See note at the end of this paper.
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 121

simple expedient of sweeping them aside as


" fancies " woven by Mrs. Willett round the ideas
received by her from Mrs. Verrall.

We unfortunately possess no general criterion by


which genuine messages ab extra can be distin-

guished from the imaginations and embroideries of


the automatist. I am, therefore, far from asserting
that the peculiar distribution of subconscious activi-

ties assumed by Miss Stawell is inadmissible. But


this, I think, may fairly be said; that so far from
affording support to her alternative hypothesis it

is an additional difficulty in the way of that

hypothesis being accepted.


Why Miss Stawell should be so wedded to the

idea of " unconscious leakage " I own I do not fully

understand. If I were seeking some way of escape


from the hypothesis of spirit communication, and
were willing to believe that Mrs. Verrall, possessing,
though partly in the form of latent memories, all

the raw material required, had evolved out of them


the complicated design presented in the scripts, I

should see no advantage in trying to discredit the


clear evidence of purpose which those same scripts

exhibit. On the contrary, I should be inclined to

ascribe both design and purpose to the same source,


namely Mrs. Verrall's subconscious mind. The dif-

ficulties which this explanation of the case involves


122 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS
are serious enough, no doubt. That the subcon-
scious mind of a living person, herself an auto-
matist, should elaborate such a puzzle and communi-
cate it telepathically to another automatist in order

to manufacture fictitious evidence for survival, the


normal self of the communicator remaining the
while entirely innocent of what was taking place,
is a hypothesis with as little support from experi-
ence as the " unconscious leakage " which finds
favour with Miss Stawell. But at least it avoids
some of the objections to which I cannot but hold
the latter to be open; and among them the artificial
separation of the construction of the puzzle from
the use to which it is put.

Let me in conclusion repeat once more that


though I am unable to agree with Miss Stawell, I

nevertheless regard her paper as a valuable contri-

bution to the study of the subject. It raises ques-

tions which ought to be raised; and I frankly admit


that she has directed the lance of her criticism
against what is probably the least protected point
in the armour of her adversary. May I on my side

hope that the considerations I have urged in reply

will go at least some way towards reconciling her


to a view of the case which already, as it would
seem, she only half-heartedly opposes?
NOTE ON THE ANALOGIES BETWEEN
THE STATIUS CASE AND THE
DIONYSIUS CASE.
:

Note on the Analogies between the Statius

Case and the Dionysius Case.

In my original paper I called attention to certain fea-


tures which were common to the Dionysius Case and
to the Statius Case which preceded it.

Both present a literary problem the solution of


which appears to be purposely withheld at first, and
is finally revealed only after the lapse of a considerable
interval of time.
In both the part of principal communicator is as-
signed to Dr. Verrall, though in the Dionysius Case he
is associated with his friend S. H. Butcher.
Both purport to furnish evidence of the continued
existence after death of their presumptive author or
authors.
A careful comparison of the two cases shews that
there are other points of resemblance, as well as some
points of difference, which it may be worth while to
note.
The two cases are sbnilar in that
(i) Both open with a message to Mrs. Verrall.
(2) In both the final clue is given in Mrs. Ver-
rall's presence.
(3) In both the sitting at which Mrs. Verrall was
present was her only sitting with Mrs.
Willett during the periods covered by the
two sets of scripts respectively.

(4) In both the interval of silence, during which


the subject appeared to be ignored, was
125
:

126 THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS


occupied with scripts relating to matters of
a private nature.
The cases differ in that
(i) The Statius Case is started in a trance-script,
but developed and concluded in three
scripts written in a state of normal con-
sciousness; whereas the Dionysius Case is
started in a script produced in a normal
state, but developed and concluded in three
trance-scripts.
(2) The interval of silence occurred in the Statius
case between the and second scripts,
first

in the DionysiusCase between the third


and fourth. In the Statius Case the sitter
present when the subject was resumed was
myself, in the Dionysius Case Mrs. Verrall.
While I think these points of similarity and differ-
ence may be worth noting, and, in some instances, not
without interest as bearing on the present contro-
versy, it does not appear to me that any important
argument can be drawn from them in support of
either one side or the other. Miss Stawell asks
whether Mrs. Verrall had any sitting with Mrs. Wil-
lett during the interval between scripts C and D. The
answer, as may be gathered from the above statement,
is in the negative. In fact up to the date of script D
Mrs. Verrall had not sat with Mrs. Willett since
Sept. 8, 1 9.1 3, the date on which the final clue to the
Statius problem was given. I cannot see, however,
that this circumstance is in any way inconsistent with
Dr. Verrall's being the real communicator; while, on
the other hand, the fact that in the Statius Case the
return to the subject occurred in two scripts produced
not in Mrs. Verrall's presence but with myself as
THE EAR OF DIONYSIUS 127

sitter, tells, so far as it goes, against the supposition


that in the Dionysius case the resumption of the sub-
ject was dependent upon Mrs. Verrall's attention
being once more directed to it.
INDEX
s

INDEX
Achilles, 19, 20, 28 communication, 64; vision,
Acis, 26, 29, 69, 70 record, 23
Acis and Galatea Story, 26,
28, 35, 36, 40, 45, 59, 68, 69, Cam, Father, 21, 24
70. 73, 74. Cambridge, 24
Ai, 38 Canongate, 21, 24
Alpheus, 31, 86 Cave, 18, 28, 37
Antiphanes, 46 Chance, 115
Arethusa, 17, 31, 71, 72,86 Chance-coincidence, 77, 78,
Aristophanes, 11 ; clouds and 113
frogs, 84; Plutus, 39, 40, Classical knowledge, 5, 6, 33,
84, 85 41; Mrs. Verrall's, 84, 85,
Aristotelian friend, 30 86; Mrs. Willett's, 58, 59 J

Aristotle, 19, 23, 24, 33, 65; test of Mrs. Willett's, 48


Poetics, 24, 34, 35, 38, 45, Communications from the
73, 83 dead, 63 ; design in, 89 de- ;

Arnold's Forsaken Merman, sign vs. purpose, 117, 118;


69 doubt, 93; positive evi-
Ars Poetica, 31, 33 dence, 64
Artemis, 31, 86 Consciousness, 15
Artificial scripts, 78 Corcyra, II
Association of ideas, 21, 22, Cross-correspondences, 67, 68,
93 70, 78, 104, 105, 113, 117
Athenseus, 45 Cyclopean, 38, 40
Athenian expedition against Cyclopes, 27
Syracuse, 10, 11, 13 Cyclops, 27
Cythera, 38, 40, 41
Balaustion, 11, 13, 22
Balfour, G. W., 16, 30, 46, 60, Dante, 51
79, 83, 88, 93 reply to Miss
; Dark boy, 20, 25
Stawell's criticisms, 97 Design, 55, 89, 115 purpose;

Bayfield, Mr., 65 and, 89, 117


Berries, 73 Dionysius, 3, 8, 12, 42, 45,
Blest pair of Sirens, 71, 72 passim
Bliicher, 25 Dionysius' Ear the lobe, 3
Boot, 11, 18, 22\ sketch, 17 Dithyrambs, 41, 45
Browning's Aristophanes' Doctored sense, 70, 71, 72
Apology, 11, 12 Dreams, 87
Butcher, S. H., 23, 30, 37, 40, Dry den's Ode for St. Ce cilia'
54, 81, S3; personal traits, Day, 72
64, 65 positive evidence of
;
Dy Dy, 5, 8, n
131
132 INDEX
Ear, 37, 45 sketch, 32
; Johnson, Miss, 60, 78, 79, 113
Ear of Dionysius, 21, 35, 80 Juvenal, 31, 34
Ecate, 37
Edinburgh, 24 King, Mrs., 36, 67, 72 knowl- ;

Ek e tee, 23 edge, 74 script of March 1,


;

Eleven, number, 79 1914, 68; script of March


Encyclopedia Britannicd, 41, 13, 1914, 69; script of April
42 1, 1915, 71 script of Oct. 3,
;

Enna, 5, 9, 22 191 5, 73; scripts, 105


Etna, Mount, 28 Kithara, 41
Euripides, 5, 11, 13 Knowledge, 55, 58; forget-
Evidence, cumulative, 91, 92, ting, 56, 108
100
Experiments, 90 Latent mind. See Subcon-
sciousness
Filtered sense, 71, 72 Laughter, 5, 9, 18
Flames, fanning of, 68 Leakage from mind to mind,
Forgetfulness, 47, 56, 60, 82, unconscious, 88, 91, no,
87, 91, 92, 102, 108 in, 121 evidence for, 112
;

Fountain, 17, 20, 29 Lempriere's Classical Diction-


ary, 43, 58, 59, 84
Galatea, 26, 38, 70 Literary riddle, 22, 26, 29, 41,
Galateia, 42, 44 53, 118, 119
German Field Marshal, 20, 25 Lodge, Sir Oliver, 4, 8, 15, 60
Ghosts, 23, 37 Lotus Eaters, 27, 38
Golden numbers, 32 Lovers' motif, 69, 70
Grote's History of Greece, 42, Lucus, 14
84
Grotto, 4 Man with the glittering eyes,
Gurney, Edmund, 18, 21, 31, 19
32, 34, 40, 46, 104, 105, 106 Margaret, Margaret, 69
Matthaei, Miss, 86
Handel, 26, 28, 72, 73 May (Mrs. Verrall), 21, 22
Handel's Acis and Galatea, 50 Memory, 60; latent, 88; see
Hecate, 24, 37 also Forgetfulness
Heel of the Boot, 5, 11 Milton's " Blest pair of
Hegelian friend, 30 Sirens," 72, 73
Hercules Furens, 12 Mind, subconscious contact,
Holland, Mrs., 11, 13 90; see also Leakage, etc.
Holland Script, 12 Misquotation, 14
Homer, 18, 27, 28, 39 "Moonlight," 78
Homer's Odyssey, 26 Mousike, 30, 33, 65, 86
Horace, 33 Music, 45
Music and verse combined,
Impatience, 40, 52, 65 41, 72
Infiltration of mind, 62 Musical instrument, 39, 45
Interpretations, 68 Myers, F. W. H., 92

Jealousy, 31, 33, 35, 39, 4L Newnham College, 86


45 Nigger boys, 18, 28
INDEX 133
Normal state of conscious- exhibited, 55 explanations,
;

ness, 15 54; knowledgeexhibited,


Number eleven, 79 55, 58; see also King, Mrs.,
Willett scripts
Odyssey, 26, 38 Sealed letters, 80, 89, 92, 112
One ear, 17; sketch, 17 Shades, 20
One-eared place, 5, 8 Sic semper tyrannis, 19
One eye, 28, 81 Sicilian Artemis, 86
One-eyed man, 17 Sicilian Ode, 71, 72
One-horsed dawn, 5, 8, 89, Sicily, 9, 27, 40, 41,
72
112, 113 Sidgwick, Henry, 19
Orecchio, 4, 5, 8 Sidgwick, Mrs., 60, 92
Ovid, 40; Metamorphoses, 26 Sinclair, May, 87
Slaves, 5, 13
Personal traits, 64, 65 Smith's Dictionary of Greek
Philemon, 5, II, 12, 14 and Roman Biography and
Philox, 38, 40, 61 Mythology, 31, 41, 42, 43;
Philoxenus, 41, 44, 81, 85, 86; 61, 84
allusions in literature, 84; Smyth, H. W., 44, 45, 46;
Cyclops or Galatea, 9, 39, Greek Melic Poets, 43, 58,
42, 44, 45, 72 81, 84, 86, 109
Piddington, Mr., II, 36, 60, 89, Society for Psychical Re-
112, 113 search, 3 meeting on April
;

Pipe, 9 26, 191 7, 77


Piper, Mrs., 19, 92 Stagirite, 30, 33
Polyphemus, 26, 27, 28, 38, Statius Case, 51, 116, 117, 120;
81 analogies with Dionysius
Polyphemus and Ulysses Case, 125 criticisms an-
;

story, 26, 35, 45, 83 swered, 52; Dionysius Case


Polyphera, 68, 69 and, 53
Poseidon, 18, 28 Stephen man, 20, 29, 71
Proserpine, 9, 18, 22 Stone-quarries, 4, 8, 13, 21,
Purpose, design and, 89, 117; 35, 38, 39, 4i, 45, 80
evidence, 120 Stones, throwing, 68, 69
Stones in the market place, 71
Rape of Proserpine, 9 Stawell, Miss F. M., discus-
Rapport, 115 sion of evidence of sur-
Rationalist friend, 30 vival presented, 77; reply
" Raymond," of Mr. Balfour, 97
77
Riddle, 22, 26, 29, 41, 53, 118, Styx, 18, 28
119 Subconsciousness, 56, 83, 84
River, traveller looking Subliminal activity, 112, 116
across, 51 Supraliminal activity, 112, 114
Rose, 21, 24, 25, 37 Survival, personal, discussion
of evidence by Miss Sta-
Salter, Mrs., 109 well, 77; doubt, 93, 98, 99;
Satire, 31, 34, 35, 37, 38, 41, evidence, 22, 52; evidence
must be cumulative, 91, 92,
Script memory, 102 100 reasons for doubt, 80;
;

Scripts, artificial, 78; design scripts affording evidence,


134 INDEX
3 ; summary of evidence in Verrall, Mrs,, 21, 36, 37, 60,
" Ear of Dionysius," 80 81; classical knowledge, 84,
Swinburne, 18, 25 85, 86; note of Jan. 19,
Syracuse, 4, 5, 22, 31, 71, 80; 1914, 6; subconscious mind,
Athenian expedition against, 84, 108; unconscious leak-
10, ii, 13 age of mind, 88; passim
Volcano, 29; sketch, 17
Tarentum, 11
Telepathy, 8, 61, 62, 78, 79, Wellington boot, 18, 22
09, 113, 114, 117 Wellington school, 25
Tennyson, 9, 10, 19 Whispering gallery, 4, 5
Test questions, 92 Waters, 68, 69
Theocritus, 9 Willett, Mrs., classical learn-
Threttanelo (dperraveXS), 39 ing, 48, 58, 82; conscious-
Thrumming, 39, 45 ness and trance, 15 knowl-
;

Thucydides, 4 edge, integrity and good


Trance, 48 faith, 56, 82; knowledge of
Trance-scripts, 15, 16 Prof. Butcher, 25; mental
Traveller looking across a equipment, 12; subconscious
river, 51 mind, 56, 83, no; surprise
Trident, 18, 28 at extracts from her auto-
Tyrant, 20, 39 matic scripts, 49, 50; un-
conscious knowledge from
Ulysses, 10, 19, 20, 26, 28; Mrs. Verrall, 88; vision of
see also Polyphemus, etc. Prof. Butcher, 23; passim
Willett scripts, 115; condi-
Verrall, A. W., 6, 23, 30, 54, tions of production, 14;
81; dark boy, 25; doubt as script of Jan. 10, 1914, 5, 8,
to his communication, 80; 87; of Feb. 28, 1914, 16, 71,
hypothesis against his com- 81, 88; of Mar. 2, 1914, 30,
munication, 91 personal ;
67, 81, 88; of Aug. 2, 1915,
traits, 65 positive evidence
; 37, 73', of Aug. 19, 1915 46;
of communication, 64; of Mar. 2, 1914, and Aug. 2,
Smyth's Greek Me lie Poets, 1915, 104
44, 58
Verrall, Miss Helen, 109 Zither, 30, 33, 41; sketch, 30